About 1.34 million children in danger of malnutrition- UNICEF

About 1.34 million children in danger of malnutrition- UNICEF
Mothers and children gather at an IDP camp in South Sudan. UNICEF predicts heightened level of malnutrition in South Sudan mid this year. [File Photo]

An estimated 1.34 million children under five years of age are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed. The UN agency adds that of this number, 302,163 children will be predisposed to acute malnutrition.

The humanitarian situation report No. 167 by UNICEF stated that the nutrition outlook in the country is alarming, with admission trends in nutrition programs seeing up to a 36 per cent increase as compared to the same period in January–March of 2020 and 2021.

About 75 per cent of the counties are projected to be in IPC Acute Malnutrition (AMN) Phase 3 and above by April to July 2022. Of those, 39 counties are in IPC AMN Phase 4.

According to the IPC analysis, between April to July 2022, an estimated 7.74 million people (62.7 per cent of the population) will likely face crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity. Also, 87,000 people are likely to be in a catastrophe (IPC phase 5) or acute food insecurity in Fangak, Pigi and Ayod in Jonglei State; Pibor Administrative Area; Cuibet and Rumbek North in Lakes State; and Leer and Mayendit in Unity State.

Between January and March 2022, UNICEF supported 68,957 children; 37,485 Girls and 31,472 boys with Severe Acute Malnutrition who were treated in in-patient and out-patient therapeutic programs.

The report highlights that the highest admissions for children suffering from acute malnutrition were from Jonglei (23.6 per cent), Unity (16 per cent), and Northern Bahr El Ghazal (11.9 per cent).

In comparison to the same period of 2020 and 2021, the current admission has increased by 36 and 32 percent respectively.

Performance indicators of severe acute malnutrition treatment were above acceptable minimum sphere standards, with a cure rate of 96.5 per cent, a death rate of 0.2 per cent and a defaulter rate of 2 per cent.

During the same reporting period, infant and young child feeding counselling services reached 523,313 pregnant women and caregivers of children 0-23 months which is the highest in the last four years.

UNICEF targets to meet the needs of 3,011,980 children; 1,495,234 girls and 1, 516,746 boys reached with vitamin A supplementation.

The number of caregivers of children aged 0 to 23 months who received counseling on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition was 1,338,658 while the total results were 523,313. This has changed since the last report and increased by 173, 704.