USAID injects $35M to tackle child malnutrition in South Sudan
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) approved $35 million in additional humanitarian assistance to 1.4 million children suffering from life-threatening forms of malnutrition in South Sudan.
South Sudan is currently facing the highest levels of malnutrition among children on record, with 1.4 million children expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by 2022.
The USAID South Sudan Mission Director, Kate Crawford, said the US government will continue to support the ongoing response to malnutrition and ensure the health and well-being of children throughout South Sudan.
The USAID assistance will be channelled through UNICEF South Sudan to provide over 350,000 cartons of RUTF to treat over 350,000 children across South Sudan in 2022 and 2023.
“Addressing food insecurity and malnutrition in South Sudan is critical, and we are acutely aware of the need in providing these supplies to treat malnourished children.”
Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF South Sudan Representative, said the cartons of therapeutic food will be dispatched throughout the country to more than 1,300 nutrition centres where UNICEF and partners are screening children for malnutrition and providing therapeutic assistance to those in need.
“UNICEF has already treated almost 150,000 children for acute malnutrition in 2022, and with this vital support, UNICEF and partners can ensure continued screening and treatment of children across the country and we are grateful to the United States for this support.”
Additional funding from USAID will benefit over one million mothers, fathers, and caregivers of children under the age of 24 months through maternal, infant, and young child nutrition counselling services.
According to USAID, the 1.4 million children represent a 30 per cent increase in the number of children suffering from wasting compared to 2021.
For instance, at Al Sabha Children’s Hospital, mothers come knocking with their children seeking treatment for malnutrition.
Most of the patients look visibly frail, and tired and some are anaemic. Betty Achan Ochieng, a nurse at the children’s ward painted a saddening tale of overcrowding wards that attract children whose only need is an adequate balanced diet.
Dr.Angelo Maduok, a paediatrician at the same facility said the centre has seen a rise in the number of malnourished children. He explained that many families across South Sudan are not able to provide enough nutritious food to their children.
“The main reason why children are suffering malnutrition is acute food shortages. Families are not able to provide enough nutritious food for their children the other problem that we have seen is family problems…mothers are stressed, fathers are stressed and they have issues.
‘‘The economy is down and we have floods, instability, and these three things are preventing families from cultivating.”