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CDC/WFP Survey Urges Immediate Action
to Stem Growing Health Crisis for Sudanese Families

CDC/WFP recommends increase
in feeding programs, food rations, and public health measures

Chad woman and child The continuing crisis in Darfur puts 1.6 million Sudanese at risk of illness and possibly death during the next three months from lack of food, shelter, and health care, say survey findings released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).
The emergency nutrition and mortality survey performed by CDC and partners in September at the request of WFP found an acute malnutrition rate of up to 21.8 percent across Darfur. A rate above 15 percent signals a serious situation, according to current WHO guidelines.

“Combating malnutrition is not just an issue about supplying food but of getting sufficient calories and micronutrients,” said CDC survey team member Leisel Talley. “When nutrition is lacking, weight loss occurs and people become susceptible to infection. They quickly can succumb to disease and death. Public health intervention now is essential to protect lives.”

CDC/WFP found that among children ages 6 months to 5 years in Darfur

  • Almost 1 in 4 are acutely malnourished thereby at increased risk of morbidity and mortality,
  • 2 in 5 had diarrhea in the two weeks prior to the survey, and
  • 1 in 2 suffer anemia which contributes to developmental delays, disease and death, and
  • Measles vaccination is inadequate among children 6-59 months (only 67.6 percent instead of 95 percent recommended to prevent outbreaks).

The survey also found that for women

  • Almost 1 in 6 reported night blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency, and
  • 1 in 4 has goiter from an iodine deficiency which is a risk factor in giving birth to children with mental disabilities.

This survey showed that mortality rates averaged over the last 7 months among the population as a whole remain below emergency benchmarks. However, given the elevated level of malnutrition and high prevalence of diarrhea these rates are likely to increase. Factors contributing to the health crisis, in addition to insufficient food and micronutrients, include poor sanitation and limited availability and access to health care.
The CDC survey team recommends immediate steps to reduce the health threat, including:

  • Expanding supplementary feeding programs (high-quality dietary supplementation of the existing ration) for all children less than 5 years old and pregnant and lactating women.
  • Delivering a full general food ration to meet the 2100Kcal minimum.
  • Initiate measles immunization campaign to target children previously missed.
  • Improving access for people to health care services, water/sanitation and nutrition programs.

“The situation in Darfur is very precarious,” said WFP Senior Officer Rita Bhatia. “Humanitarian assistance is going to be required for some time.”

Highlights of the CDC/WFP survey report are available at:

The survey project involved a team of experts from WFP-Rome and the CDC in Atlanta, in coordination with Sudan-based staff from the U.N. Children’s Fund, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Save the Children/U.S., Save the Children/U.K., and WFP.

Related Links:

CDC/WFP Survey Urges Immediate Action to Stem Growing Health Crisis for Sudanese Families
 (PDF 482 K) 

Darfur Nutrition Survey Overview (Powerpoint Slides
4.3 MB) 

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