Malnutrition on the rise

Malnutrition on the rise
Malnutrition on the rise

Rates of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), a measure used to gauge the severity of malnutrition in a population, have far surpassed extreme levels in most locations assessed across South Sudan.

Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with medical complications are ten times more at risk of dying than those without. Such children require immediate treatment to stabilize the condition and save their life. Children who have medical problems and do not have an appetite need inpatient care in a clinic or hospital. They need specially-formulated milks and medical treatment to manage infections and other complications. Without this level of care, they will likely to die.

Since famine was declared in February 2017, over 2 500 severely malnourished children with medical complications have received treatment with support from WHO through static and mobile health teams supporting nutritional Inpatient Therapeutic Programs.

“In a humanitarian crisis, children are the most vulnerable and exposed to elevated risk of acute malnutrition. When malnutrition is associated with medical complications, children’s survival is critically compromised unless diagnosed and managed on time and promptly at the health facility level,” says Ms Marina Adrianopoli, Technical Officer for Nutrition at the WHO South Sudan. “Providing appropriate treatment is vital to save lives and restore health and nutrition status of children.”
Despite the fragile security situation and challenging conditions to deliver health and nutrition services, WHO and partners continue to work at improving access to severe acute malnutrition treatment services. Recent efforts included provision of essential medicines to stabilization centers, developing national guidelines, conducting capacity building programs, and performing ongoing disease surveillance and monitoring.

WHO trained 18 health professionals on the management of SAM with medical complications in November2017. The training rolled out the new national package and guidelines on inpatient management of severe acute malnutrition.

In the second half of 2017, WHO donated over 50 severe acute malnutrition (SAM) kits to counties with high rates of Global Acute malnutrition (GAM) in the Greater Equatoria Regions, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei regions to support treatment of 2 500 children at high risk of dying.

The WHO’s SAM kit is designed to provide medical treatment for children under the age of five years suffering from severe malnutrition with medical complications. One kit can treat and save the lives of 50 malnourished patients. The kit includes antibiotics, antifungal, de-worming, antimalarial and anti-scabies medicines, medical equipment and a rehydration mix specific to treat cases of SAM.

“Preventing children from dying needlessly is WHO’s top priority in South Sudan,” says Mr Liyosi. “WHO is taking every opportunity to ensure that children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with medical complications are reached on time with lifesaving health care services. This includes provision of medical supplies, drugs and training programs on inpatient care.”

In preparation for the anticipated nutrition crisis in 2018, WHO started supporting the MOH and partners in the distribution of SAM kits prioritizing areas that are likely to be affected by critical emergency and humanitarian catastrophe.

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