Malnutrition in Sudan Continues as Supplies Are Needed

health, sudan, malnourished, unicef
Child malnutrition in Sudan continues to be problematic and reports have stated that more supplies are needed in order to eradicate the problem. The Sudanese Government has initiated an endeavor to tighten the reins on hunger and malnutrition. This will be bolstered with the help of humanitarian agencies, however it is a matter of resources that stops the final steps to end undernourishment.

Susan Lillicrap, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition in Sudan, has stated that Sudan’s malnutrition is a solvable problem and that the strategic plan the government is manufacturing is considered as “thorough and effective.” However, she also stated that a lack of “resources” obstructs the complete elimination of children suffering from the injustices of malnutrition.

After years of civil war, many areas of Sudan have been disheveled by poverty. Children in Sudan have become weakened by diarrhea and vomiting, which untreated has resulted in death and in the summer when the weather grows hotter, food supplies run short in many communities. Health checks for children are essential; visiting specialists take note of the child’s height and weight to determine levels of health.

Together, the government and other charitable organizations have comprised a plan. They seek to provide sanitation, education and a program with agricultural elements, in addition to nutritional supplements.

Eastern Sudan has the highest malnutrition rate in the country. It is estimated that 30 percent of children below the age of five are moderately or chronically malnourished. Organizations like UNICEF help as many children in need as possible. A high energy paste called PlumpyNut, is supplied to the children with the nutrients they need to survive. Within six to eight weeks of eating the paste, supported by quality health treatment, is usually enough to nurse malnutrition.

Throughout Sudan, an estimated 750,000 children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition each year. Death tolls are exceedingly high and the children who do survive can suffer with long-term effects of malnutrition. This can stem from stunting and wasting, to behavioral and developmental problems, chronic health issues like diabetes and emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. The stakes are extremely high as malnutrition in Sudan continues to be problematic and supplies are needed, as government and humanitarian partners have increased their treatment of children with malnutrition.

An estimated 132,000 children below the age of five have been treated this year alone. This number has increased greatly from the 102,000 children treated in 2012 and 27,000 in 2009. Despite this, there are still voluminous amounts of children who are dying from malnutrition and are in desperate need of food and water.

In eastern Sudan, the UN is working in partnership with the government in order to help provide vital food assistance to children under 3-years-old.  A supplementary feeding program has been established at malnutrition centers across the region, providing extra food and basic health treatment for children at risk. Mothers who bring their children to these malnutrition centers receive PlumpyNut.

In addition to the complications with acquiring supplies, there are also problems found within the culture of Sudan. For example, conservative customs often prevent women leaving home without the accompaniment of a male family member. This means that mothers who are perceived as the primary provider, can not always bring their children to follow-up treatment at a care center. There is also evidence that mothers will share the PlumpyNut paste amongst all their children, rather than just giving it to the one malnourished child as instructed.

This is why governmental and humanitarian projects are attempting to provide programs that not only include nutritional supplements, but also education, sanitation and agricultural awareness. This way, the problem can be fought on a broader scale as malnutrition in Sudan continues and more supplies are needed.
By Melissa McDonald