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Sudan Health Ministry injects money to cover nutrition projects

September 24 - 2015 KHARTOUM / ED DAEIN
A WFP community volunteer holds a child before being attended in a food distribution center in the Rwanda camp for displaced people in Tawila, North Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)
A WFP community volunteer holds a child before being attended in a food distribution center in the Rwanda camp for displaced people in Tawila, North Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)

The Sudanese Ministry of Health has allocated over SDG50 million ($8 million) to treat malnutrition and cover existing gaps in the resources of humanitarian partners. In East Darfur, nutrition programmes are lacking essential staff and supplies.

The amount will be used to scale-up community-based management of acute malnutrition and to purchase ready-to-use therapeutic food and routine drugs in order to increase the number of children that receives treatment for severe acute malnutrition, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) reported in its latest weekly bulletin.

The plan of the Health Ministry and aid partners will run until the end of 2017 and also emphasises the use of more existing health facilities. Only 12.5 percent of functional health units in Sudan currently provide nutrition services.

Currently the capacity to treat severe malnutrition and moderate acute malnutrition remains relatively low, according to the UN Children’s Fund, and focused on states with complex humanitarian situations. According to the national malnutrition survey in 2013, 54 out of the 184 localities in Sudan have a prevalence of severe acute malnutrition above the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

Between February and June 2015, a total of 117 health staff have returned to their states after a training in community-based management of acute malnutrition, and reportedly trained more than 300 health workers themselves.

East Darfur

A recent monitoring mission by Unicef to Labado town in East Darfur’s Yassin locality found that the nutrition programme - operated by Tearfund - lacked essential staff and supplies, as well as a centre for treating severely malnourished children. Severely malnourished children must be referred to Ed Daein or Nyala, which are respectively 130 and 65 kms away.

The centre in Ed Daein is the only one in East Darfur. Plans to establish two more - one in Adila to be operated by the American Refugee Council and one in Sheiria to be operated by Tearfund - are underway, according to the OCHA. The office claimed that Sudan's overall response to malnutrition has improved, but the low number of staff and supplies continues to limit nutrition services in some areas.

Restrictions on food

The shortage of World Food Programme's super cereals because of restrictions on the import of relief items continues to affect projects in the state. Nutrition projects reporting to OCHA say that this gap in super cereals will leave an estimated 2,144 children in East Darfur at risk of malnutrition.

OCHA reported earlier this month that the nutrition centre staff in East Darfur now goes out to visit people and explain how to prevent malnutrition. The import restrictions by the Sudanese authorities on relief items provided by the WFP are expected to continue at least until the end of October. A committee with representatives of several UN agencies, including OCHA, will discuss solutions to this issue with the government.

(Source: OCHA)

The new regulations require a list be provided of all goods to be imported before the items are dispatched. This way the government of Sudan attempts to limit import of items that could be procured locally.

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