South Sudan to join global drive to eliminate malnutrition

26 Jun 2013

South Sudan to join global drive to eliminate malnutrition

24 June 2013 - South Sudan is committed to joining other countries in a concerted campaign against malnutrition, Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Yatta Lori Lugor said in Juba today as a joint UN team arrived in the country to introduce the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.

The SUN Movement is a global initiative that was founded in 2010 to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, and to date 40 countries have joined the movement. An estimated 200,000 children under the age of five in South Sudan are at risk of being malnourished, according to a UNICEF press release.

"It is unacceptable for children to continue dying from malnutrition that is preventable and curable," said Vice President Riek Machar. "There is urgent need to step up efforts to ensure a healthy future for children."

The high-level joint UN mission that includes officials from UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Programme will participate in a consultation workshop with key stakeholders in South Sudan during their three-day visit and draft a road map in order to introduce the SUN movement.

"South Sudan needs integrated and comprehensive policies and programming framework to address the under-nutrition (especially stunting) in line with SUN framework," said Dr. Lugor, who noted that 31 per cent of malnourished children show signs of a reduced growth rate. "We are fully committed to join (the) movement."

The UNICEF press release noted that UN agencies are supporting government efforts to respond to child and maternal under-nutrition through advocacy, planning and coordination, expansion of essential nutrition services and improved monitoring of the malnutrition situation.

"A new nation's future is its children. ... A critical aspect is proper nutrition among children where the data is alarming," said UN Resident Development and Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer. "We need a concerted effort to tackle malnutrition."

The SUN framework calls for direct nutrition interventions focusing on pregnant women and children aged less than two years, as well as the promotion of agriculture and food security and ensuring access to health care, clean water and sanitation.