Some 84,625 children in South Sudan with severe acute malnutrition have been treated since the beginning of this year amid the coronavirus in the country, UNICEF said on Tuesday.

“While we are engaged in the response to the COVID-19 disease along with our partners, we continue as much as possible to implement our regular programmes to ensure access to critical and life-saving health and nutrition services for children, addressing severe acute malnutrition and child deadly diseases such as malaria, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases”, Mohamed Ag Ayoya, the UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said in a statement.

“Not doing so would condemn a much larger number of children in South Sudan to illness and possibly even death. We cannot accept that to happen,” he said.

“Because of the restriction on movement measures put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, we have also been struggling to travel and to deliver supplies throughout the country, and some of our programmes had to be postponed or scaled down. We hope that the conditions will allow restrictions of movement to be eased soon,” Ayoya explained.

“As it has become obvious that COVID-19 will be part of the reality of South Sudan for a while, it is clear that all must be done to ensure that children continue to receive the basic services in health, nutrition, education, WASH [water, sanitization and hygiene] and protection, that they are entitled to, while we continue to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.

In a report issued in October 2019, UNICEF assessed that, some 1.3 million South Sudanese children under five years of age are at risk of suffering from “acute malnutrition” in 2020.

The report highlighted that only 7% of South Sudanese children aged under five years enjoyed an adequate diet.

It underlined the link between child malnutrition and suffering common diseases, including malaria, which it said were often “the starting point for malnutrition”.

The global organization also revealed that in South Sudan, only 50% of households had access to clean water while 10% had access to improved sanitation.

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