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Call to invest in nutrition in Sudan

August 21 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Weighing children at El Manar Health Centre in Mayo district, southern Khartoum (OCHA, 20 May 2016)
Weighing children at El Manar Health Centre in Mayo district, southern Khartoum (OCHA, 20 May 2016)

The Sudanese Ministries of Health and International Cooperation, together with Unicef and the World Food Programme, launched the Investment Case for Nutrition project in Khartoum on 10 August.

A multi-sectoral approach is taken to combat malnutrition in the country, as it is a symptom of failure of many sectors – health, education, social welfare, food security and agriculture among others, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) reports in its latest weekly bulletin.

The project is designed to contribute to existing national plans in health, nutrition and food security and agriculture, according to a statement by the organisers. It includes three packages: prevention of acute and chronic under-nutrition; reduction of child mortality; and improvement of maternal nutrition.

Investing in nutrition in Sudan provides an opportunity to contribute to saving children’s lives, prevents disabilities, and accelerate economic development and growth. Under-nutrition undermines short and long-term health, learning capabilities and decreases earning prospects by about 22 percent.

Reducing malnutrition in young children is a human rights imperative and the most cost-effective approach to reducing the burden of mortality and under-nutrition in children under five years old, the organisers state.

The Investment Case for Nutrition proposes addressing malnutrition through scaling up a comprehensive package of interventions in health, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition and food security, and livelihoods, to reduce child mortality and malnutrition, as well as to improve maternal nutrition.

Despite gains made in the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels in Sudan are 16 percent. The emergency threshold is 15 percent, the OCHA bulletin reads.

Unicef reported on 13 March that about two million Sudanese children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition. More than 500,000 severely malnourished children are at risk of death. The growth of about two million children is stunted, owing to chronic malnutrition.

The most affected areas are North and South Darfur, Red Sea and Kassala, and Khartoum states.

According to countrymeters, that bases its information on the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sudan counted more than 17 million children under 15 years old at the beginning of this year. As of 1 January 2016, the population of Sudan was estimated to be 40,651,700 people.

Sudan became member of the UN Scaling Up Nutrition movement in November last year.

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