Date Published: 29 January 2014
Sudan S3M survey provides valuable insights into child nutrition and its effects
Information about child nutrition and its effects has been collected as part of a new survey, the Sudan S3M survey, that took place across the Republic of the Sudan. This is providing new and valuable information about the difference in performance of health and nutrition services in each of Sudan's 18 states. UNICEF has described the new information as a 'gold mine' because of its usefulness to efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of many children in the region where child malnutrition is an on-going concern.
According to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative in Sudan:
" The S3M survey is a gold mine of credible data on child malnutrition and its underlying causes. ...
_ Up to now, Sudan has only had general data on the nutritional status of its children – and we know that national and even state level averages often mask disparities at lower levels."
" Up-to-date, reliable data are indispensable to realize the right of every child in Sudan," Mr Cappelaere continued.
" With these new survey results, we know exactly where the pockets of high need are located, so investment can be tailored to make sure that every single child in need is reached."
The new data has been collected using the Simple Spatial Survey Methodology (S3M) used to collect data on child malnutrition. The S3M survey methodology has been used in other countries before, including Niger, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia but the Sudan S3M has the greatest number of indicators so far: 64 in total, covering child and maternal health and nutrition as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
The Sudan S3M survey results indicate a combination of very different realities across the country, including some high levels of stunting (chronic malnutrition) and low levels of coverage for safe water and sanitation in some areas.
Poor child feeding practices are a problem across Sudan, with localities in Kassala and Gedaref states among the most critical. According to UNICEF, the Eastern region and the three Kordofan states have the lowest coverage of safe drinking water and improved latrine facilities, while the Red Sea, Blue Nile and the Darfur region show the highest prevalence of diarrhoea (see also info about causes of diarrhoea). On a more positive note, use of iodised salt has improved, reaching over 90% of households in some localities in Red Sea, South Darfur, Blue Nile and Kassala.
Data collection for the Sudan S3M was undertaken in June, July and November 2013 involving 133 teams (532 people) and 39 supervisors from state and federal government, at an estimated cost of US$1.5 million. UNICEF has indicated that the challenge now lies in using the new data for improved planning and budgeting for services essential to help Sudan's children survive and thrive.
The Sudanese Ministry of Health endorsed the Sudan S3M survey results on 30 December 2013 and the survey forms part of a national process to give increased attention to child nutrition. A nutrition policy brief is already feeding into the development of a broad, multi-sector strategy. A national nutrition council is being formed, under the leadership of the office of the Vice President, drawing membership from relevant ministries. A comprehensive investment plan for addressing child malnutrition in Sudan is also in the works, as well as plans to make Sudan part of the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.
" The outlines of a solid, tailored and evidence-based response to child malnutrition in Sudan are emerging", said Geert Cappelaere.
" I congratulate the Ministry of Health and reiterate UNICEF's continued support in these efforts. Investing in adequate nutrition for children is a cornerstone of human development – indeed of national economic development. Every child has the right to grow up well-fed and healthy. It is a prerequisite to building an educated and productive citizenry in any nation."