Sudan launches process to develop national nutrition plan
Sudan is experiencing high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children under 5 years of age, with 36.4 per cent stunted, 13.6 per cent wasted, 57.7 per cent vitamin A deficient, and 48.1 per cent anaemic. Because of this, an estimated 2.9 million Sudanese children will not realize their full physical and mental potential.
To combat these issues, a national nutrition plan is being developed in Sudan. The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement convened a number of stakeholders in Khartoum on 12 October for a workshop to kick off the development of the plan.
The event brought together government ministers and directors, head of United Nations agencies and international organizations, development partners, donors, and representatives of academic, research and civil society organizations. At the meeting, six Sudanese ministries – Health, Agriculture and Forests, Social Development, Irrigation and Water Resources, Education, and Industry – signed a statement supporting the development and implementation of the National Multisectoral Nutrition Plan 2023–2027 and pledging to make consolidated efforts to implement evidence-based nutrition intervention.
Speaking at the meeting, Haythem Mohammed Ibrahim, Undersecretary of the Federal Ministry of Health of Sudan and the SUN Movement Focal Point in the country, reiterated the commitment of his ministry to bring together all nutrition-relevant ministries to address the high levels of malnutrition in Sudan.
“Malnutrition is burdening the country’s health system”, he said. “The solution rests with all the sectors represented at the meeting. The nutrition targets set via Nutrition for Growth, the World Health Assembly and the Sustainable Development Goals are not faraway dreams, but rather within the country’s reach if stakeholders work together”, he added.
The Agriculture and Forest Undersecretary, Abubaker Omer, stressed the importance of tackling food insecurity by leveraging agriculture and the food system in general.
“Sudan is endowed with great potential for horticulture and animal resources, and there is greater need than ever to harness this potential to address malnutrition”, he said.
Mr Omer also reiterated the commitment of his ministry to honour the Nutrition for Growth commitments for Sudan, work together with all sectors within the SUN Movement platforms — including co-leading the SUN Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Group — and support the development and implementation of the national nutrition plan.
“Sudan is rich in biodiversity and should not be struggling to feed its own citizens”, said Gamal Elnil, Undersecretary of Social Development and Welfare. “However, the country is facing one of the biggest humanitarian crises in its history, confounded by protracted conflict and natural hazards, such as flooding. The international community is responding to the crisis though relief and cash transfer programmes to address extreme poverty and hunger,, reaching out to families who are unable to bring food to their tables”, he added.
Mandeep O’Brien, the UNICEF Country Representative in Sudan and current chair of the SUN United Nations Network in Sudan, reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals for the children of Sudan and stressed the importance of preventing malnutrition, as doing so is cost-effective compared to treatment.
“Nutrition is a powerful connector of sectors across systems,. UNICEF is happy to support the development and implementation of the plan”, she said.