By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
October 21, 2012 (BENTIU) -The number of malnourished children in South Sudan’s Unity state is on the decline, the international medical charity, Medicines San Frontiers (MSF) has announced.
- A woman and her severely malnourished child in Doro refugee camp, South Sudan, March 9, 2012 (Reuters)
Catherine Hoet, MSF’s Project Coordinator in Unity State told Sudan Tribune over the weekend that statistics of children suffering from malnutrition this month had reduced, when compared to figures in previous months.
The decline, she said, is partly due to the massive harvest of food crops from most families in the state, making food readily available for children.
MSF, which currently runs a feeding center in Bentiu, the Unity state capital has in recent months been engaged in treating numerous cases of severe malnutrition in the area, as well as in neighboring Rubkona County.
“In the intensive feeding centre here in new Bentiu where we admit severely malnourished children, we see roughly 20 children per week coming in as of the last few weeks that has decreased from before, but still we see severely malnourished children," said Hoet. She also noted a reduction in the instances of malnourshed children seen by the mobile feeding centre operating in Rubkona.
She however said MSF still admits between 40 to 60 children per week, despite the notable decline in malnutrition rates in the state.
Poor infrastructures is hampering MSF’s efforts to reach malnourished children who live in rural villages inaccessible due to poor road networks.
“As MSF, the challenge we meet are of course access to these children because of the road access and the flooding so we trying to reach children that are for screening to see if they are in need for therapeutic feeding treatment. We also to follow up with children that are already admitted and are not showing up in the programme that is part of outreach work, that is very challenging,” Hoet told Sudan Tribune.
Cases of flood victims from both Mayiandit and Payinjiar of Unity state reached 60,000 according to the officials in the counties in early October. The recent trip to both areas by the authorities and NGO’s showed that thousands of lives are threatened by the floodwater.
In August, MSF’s epidemiological data showed mortality and malnutrition rates in refugee camps in Unity state were above the emergency thresholds.
As of June, however, an average of five children were dying every day in Unity state’s Yida camp, which, according to MSF hosts up to 1,200 children. The camp, hosts over 50,000 refugees who fled fighting in Sudan’s conflict states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.