RUTF continues to save lives and secure futures in Sudan
UNICEF has reached almost 290,000 children in 2021 thanks to multi-donor support and another 33,658 children who were treated for SAM in January and February 2022 with the support of BHA.
In South Darfur, the ‘hunger season’ came early this year.
“The hunger season for us is June to September, but we are already seeing a spike in cases of malnutrition in May this year,” said Imtithal Adam, a nutrition focal point at the State Ministry of Health in South Darfur.
The Darfur Region, along with the Central Region and eastern states, has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in Sudan. Overall, the country has one of the largest numbers of malnourished children in the world. An estimated three million children under 5 years of age suffer from acute malnutrition while over 618,000 suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) across the country.
Responding to malnutrition requires timely efforts starting with screening children and reaching those suffering from SAM with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF). UNICEF has been targeting hundreds of thousands of at-risk children across Sudan with the support of partners since the start of operations in the country.
“We have about 11 out-patient treatment programme centres in Nyala and only one stabilization centre. We need more, and we need them to be spread out across the state,” says Sakina Ismail Adam, a nutrition supervisor at the Stabilization Centre at the Nyala Teaching Hospital in South Darfur State where she receives SAM cases.
Most of the patients at the stabilization centre come from Jebel Merra – a mountainous area stretching over South and Central Darfur states – that was severely affected by conflict, which has limited available dietary options for communities.
USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance supported UNICEF with in-kind donation of 1,400 metric tons or 100,800 cartons of RUTF. The RUTF was delivered to OTPs at facility (fixed OTPs centres) and community level (Mobile OTPs). This enabled UNICEF and its partners to treat around 100,800 children suffering from SAM. This project also supported the improvement of warehousing conditions for 48 warehouses across 12 states in Sudan.
UNICEF has reached almost 290,000 children in 2021 thanks to multi-donor support and another 33,658 children who were treated for SAM in January and February 2022 with the support of BHA. Responding to malnutrition requires long-term, multi-sectoral efforts as well as investment at scale in infrastructure and logistics.
Such efforts also require direct involvement of the community. UNICEF sensitizes and mobilizes community leaders to guide their communities to use readily available nutrition services. Mother support groups play an active role in community sensitization and promoting proper infant and young children feeding practices, early detection and referral of cases of malnutrition.
Sakina, who has worked on the malnutrition response in Sudan for years, hopes to see more OTP centres in South Darfur.
“We want malnutrition rates to go down, but also want to make sure we save all the little lives that come into our centre,” says Sakina.
UNICEF Sudan looks forward to a continued partnership with USAID/Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) to eliminate all forms of malnutrition in Sudan.