By Adia Jildo
The National Ministry of Health and health partners have warned of acute malnutrition across the country in the coming months due to nutritional crisis as a result of food insecurity threats due to effects of climate change and conflict.
“More than 300,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2022 which is the highest since 2013. South Sudan is currently going through a nutrition crisis and malnutrition rates have continued to worsen,” Dr. Victoria Anib Manjur, Undersecretary, Ministry of Health said in a press statement during the World Breastfeeding Week.
“Exclusive breastfeeding of children until 6 months is one of the simplest, safest and healthiest means of feeding a baby and can help prevent malnutrition among children,” the government and its partners stated in a joint statement extended to No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.
Dr. Anib cited the 2022 IPC food security analysis stating that 6 out of 10 people face food insecurity hence negative consequences.
She however called on lactating mothers to exclusively breast feed their babies for the first 6 months of life as their food security is guaranteed to boost their immune systems, and protect their bodies from illness related to nutrition.
“It is proven that breast milk is the only food that babies need for the first 6 months of their life, and it keeps them healthy and protected. The Ministry of Health will work with all partners to increase knowledge among all mothers in South Sudan to ensure that all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives” Dr. Anib stated.
However UNICEF and the Ministry of Health’s statement said South Sudan showed improvement in exclusive breastfeeding from 45% to 68% from 2010 to 2022.
“The good news is that for infants, for the first 6 months of life, their food security is guaranteed as breast milk, the only food they need is available in the right quantity, at the right time and free of charge, provided the mother adopts and implements exclusive breastfeeding” said added.
The Undersecretary said despite an improvement by 23% of exclusive breastfeeding from 2010 to 2022, 1 in 3 children are still not exclusively breastfed.
This year’s theme of World Breastfeeding Day is; “Step up for Breastfeeding, educate and support”.
The theme aimed at increasing awareness to mothers around the world about the importance of breast milk by adopting and supporting the exclusive breastfeeding, hence providing the optimal nutrients for the first 6 months of a child’s life and to support them to overcome barriers to exclusive breastfeeding.