File Photo: An older boy tenderly feeds a younger child in a UNICEF-supported civilian protection site in South Sudan, a country where 4 million people are in need of urgent food assistance due to a devastating, and rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis of violence and conflict (UNICEF Official Website)
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said that nearly 1.3 million children aged below five years were at risk of acute malnutrition in South Sudan.
According to UNICEF, the high number of malnourished children can be reduced through exclusive breastfeeding for six months, alongside introduction of energy and nutrient-dense complementary feeding programs.
"As the data show, more needs to be done, especially to ensure that exclusive breastfeeding is practiced," Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF representative in South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba.
"UNICEF is urging everyone in South Sudan to assist mothers in ensuring that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is continued until the globally recommended age of six months," he added.
Ayoya said that UNICEF and partners have already reached over one million pregnant and lactating mothers in South Sudan with nutrition interventions.
"It is the responsibility of us all to support new mothers with simplest, smartest and most cost-effective ways to exclusively breastfeed their new-borns so that they survive and thrive," said Ayoya.
While over 90 percent of babies in South Sudan benefit from breastfeeding, nearly one-third of them under six months old are not exclusively breastfed, the globally recommended period for exclusive breastfeeding, according to a UNICEF statement issued ahead of the World Breastfeeding Week which runs from August 1 to 7