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1.3 million S. Sudanese children at risk of malnutrition: UNICEF

October 15, 2019 (JUBA) - An estimated 1.3 million South Sudanese children under five years old are at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition in 2020, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

A South Sudanese boy has a MUAC test, designed to detect malnutrition (Photo: ACF-South Sudan/T. Frank)

Speaking at the launch of a report, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, Mohamed Ag Ayoya said there is need for multi-sectoral approach that involves government’s help in preventing malnutrition.

"Every child in need of treatment for malnutrition is a failure, a failure in preventing the suffering," said Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, a UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.

"Preventing malnutrition is an essential part of realizing every child’s right to health. Young children can suffer lifelong consequences and in worst case die if malnutrition is not addressed timely during the first crucial years in life," he added.

The UNICEF official disclosed that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children in South Sudan has increased from 13 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019, which is above the 15 percent emergency threshold.

"Preventing malnutrition is an essential part of realizing every child’s right to health. Young children can suffer lifelong consequences and in worst case die if malnutrition is not addressed timely during the crucial years in life," said Ayoya.

The report says 340 million children globally suffered from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as iron and iodine, further undermining their growth.

"UNICEF calls on the government of South Sudan to produce a multi-sectoral strategic plan for nutrition with joint targets, pooled resources, multi-sectoral coordination, an accountability framework and joint monitoring and evaluation system," added Ayoya.

He also urged donors to support prevention activities as well as treatment of malnutrition and advocate for an enabling environment for a multi-sectoral nutrition strategy.

The report entitled, “The State of the World’s Children 2019: Children, Food and Nutrition, says over 30% of children under five worldwide were either undernourished or overweight, with nearly two in three between six months and two years not having enough food.

(ST)