Give Your Child a Healthy Start was the Campaign theme for Partners and South Sudan government on Tuesday’s launch of Nutrition Scale up Mass Campaign at Juba’s Al Sabah Children Hospital starting in Juba County to cover as far as Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal as per the kick off date until January first 2015 to hunt for malnourished children and level of malnutrition in these areas.
Shortly after South Sudan 2013 mid December conflict there were warnings by international agencies of life threat to children in their thousands due to malnutrition if no quick action is taken locally and globally as need be. The Agencies cried of absence in cultivation as result of huge displacement from the civil war that leaves children and the whole population go without food on their plates.
UNICEF says based on some of the nutrition surveys that has been conducted over the past year, approximately one million children under the age of five has been potentially threatened to be severely acute malnourished adding that this cannot be allowed to go without being addressed as malnutrition can lead to illnesses and at severe cases to death.
Vimla Tyler UNICEF Chief of Nutrition in South Sudan says Malnutrition in the early stages could potentially impact on growth and development of young children as the future generation stressing that investing on children is important as well as detecting malnutrition in them at earlier stages to be addressed and prevented.
“In mid July almost 57 thousand children out of one hundred and seventy six thousand children were reached with severe acute malnutrition treatment services and a large portion of these have been in POCs and IDP sites”.UNICEF chief of nutrition noted. ”Under WFP and UNICEF join scale of nutrition program, there has been multiple strategies that has been put in place to reach the remaining hundred and thirty four children by the end of the year; therefore improving community outreach and referral is one of those multiple strategies underlined in the scale up of the nutrition program’’.
She says the key intuition in the success of the program is the government of South Sudan pledging support to both national and state governments in the process.
The program is rolled out in three none conflict affected states of Central Equtoria, Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap because they are rated to have high burden of malnutrition Tyler adds.
Expressing his happiness at the Inaugural launch of the Nutrition scale up mass screening campaign the state minister of Health, Sanitation and Environment in Central Equatoria state Dr Emmanuel Ija Baya says proper Nutrition is a powerful good stressing that those well nourished has high likelihood of being healthy, productive and able to learn. He says good nutrition benefits families, their communities and the world as a whole.
‘’Under nutrition is by the same logic devastating. It blunts the intellect, saps the productivity of every one, it touches and perpetuates poverty,’’ the minister says, ‘’Malnutrition or stunting traps children into a lifelong cycle of poor nutrition, illness, poverty and inequity. The damage to physical and cognitive development, especially during the first two years of child’s life is largely irreversible”.
He says the launch of the campaign is an action on undernutrition that importantly reduces cost on ways of advancing human well being.
With 254 social mobilizers trained and deployed to conduct the screening campaign to assess the nutrition status of children and refer them to treatment centers, the minister says his ministry is proud that the Mobilization Network will work to save lives of thousand innocent children adding that this teams of mobilizers has helped intuitions working in health achieve successful stories during Polio eradication and cholera response activities in the country.
The mayor of Juba city council his worship Christopher Wani urged all the workers to reach the hard to reach areas in the metropolitan city where different classes of people young and old alike stay without access to basic services.
‘’In the last five months we have been battling with cholera outbreak, a bacterial disease contracted through poor hygiene and sanitation. Some of the highly affected areas were the suburbs with poor hygiene practices where open defecation, consuming water directly from unsafe sources-rivers and streams were commonly practiced”. the mayor voiced., ”There is a strong link between diarrhea diseases like cholera with malnutrition therefore; social mobilizers within the city should make sure places like Gumbo/Rajaf, Gurei, Lologo, Gudele, Ghabata, etc are well screen. These areas were highly hit by cholera and a good number of malnourished children may also be in these places,’’
Appealing to Block and Quarter Council Chairpersons to cooperate and facilitate the mass screening campaign and ensure all households and children between 0-59 months are visited, Wani extended his appeal to the mothers, Parents caregivers, health workers and local authorities to do the same urging them to take advantage of the health facilities within the city pointing at Juba Teaching Hospital, Al Sabbah Children Hospital, Nyokuron, Munuki PHCC as facilities people in the country side do not access at easy.
The mayor appreciating UNICEF for support to the Central Equatoria State Ministry of Health Sanitation and Environment regarding this program encouraged city residents to observe critical Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation (WASH) practices including lifesaving such as Infant Young Child Feeding and immunization