South Sudan has some of the worst nutrition indicators in Africa. As of 2010, it was estimated that 48.2% of children were stunted due to chronic malnutrition with 22.7% suffering wasting, indicating acute malnutrition. These results confirm the average trend of 22% global acute malnutrition (GAM) observed in the period from 1998 to 2009. The most recent nutrition survey conducted between January and June 2012 revealed an 18.5% GAM rate and 3.9% severe acute malnutrition (SAM) within twenty high-risk counties. Malnutrition plays a large part in the high mortality rate for children under five and contributes to the overall disease burden. Recent evidence links early childhood malnutrition to later development of chronic non-communicable disease; it is also associated with irreversible damages to cognitive and physiological development. These consequences, in turn, lead to economic losses and undermine the development agenda. Malnutrition is caused by inadequate food intake, inadequate healthcare, ignorance and negative socio – cultural practices. Nutrition shall constitute a core component of the Basic Package of Health and Nutritional Services and other related health policies.
Because of its crosscutting importance, the MoH shall strengthen coordination and collaboration with multi-sectoral stakeholders to improve the nutrition situation in the country. The MoH shall engage in core interventions to address all forms of malnutrition including the double burden of over nutrition. A framework for mobilising resources for nutrition services shall be developed and the policies, plans, structures and systems needed to implement quality nutritional services, established.
Recent activities include:
- Finalizing the national Nutritional Health Policy (NHP), this is awaiting state level consultations before presentation to the Nutrition Cluster and the Council of Ministers for endorsement.
- Rolling out the recently completed national guidelines for the integrated management of severe acute malnutrition (IMSAM) and the ready packs (job aids) for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).
- Developing a national strategy for the implementation of the global guidelines for infant and young child feeding (IYCF).
- Strengthening the coordination and performance of humanitarian actors with regards to the nutrition crisis in South Sudan.
- Standardizing nutrition surveys.
- Harmonizing reporting formats for nutrition interventions.
Planned actions include:
- Strengthen the department of nutrition in the MoH and establish a multi-sectoral national board for nutrition, headed by the MoH.
- Continue to review and update training manuals and guidelines for community based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM).
- Continue to review and update guidelines, job aids and protocols for the management of acute
- Standardise nutrition surveillance systems, strengthen the nutrition information system, and ensure integration into the framework of DHIS.
- Develop essential package for nutrition services and integration into the Basic Package for Health and Nutrition Services (BPHNS).
- Build skills for management of acute malnutrition at facility and community levels through training and exchange visits.
- Develop key messages, including audio and visual aids, and strategy for nutrition education and communication to raise public awareness.
- Strengthen collaborations with relevant sectors.
- Develop guidelines, legislation and strategies for micro nutrient supplementation, food fortification, labeling and consumer protection.
- Develop guidelines for institutional feeding (schools, prisons, etc) that promote
- Ensure recruitment of human resources for nutrition at central and state levels to undertake identified core nutrition functions and build skills for managing nutrition
- Strengthen hospital dietary services, care and support for chronic diseases.
- Strengthen research base, conduct mapping studies and document contextual information on local patterns, practices, resources, and geographical factors influencing nutrition outcomes in South Sudan.