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close this book Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province
close this folder 6. The nutritional status of children in Red Sea Province, July-October 1989: a supplement to the November 1985-November 1987 results. Mary L. Cole and Roy Cole
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Summary

Nutritional surveillance teams at Oxfam Port Sudan undertook one provincewide survey of the nutritional status of randomly selected children less than equal to to cm in height in Red Sea Province between July and October 1989. The survey was undertaken in order to provide a representative overview of the nutritional status of children in Red Sea Province after the generally exceptional rains Of 1988, and as relief distributions in the province came to an end. The survey was designed to be directly comparable with those done by Oxfam in 1986 and 1987.

The percentage of children less than 8096 reference weight for height (malnourished) in Red Sea Province declined significantly between 1987 and 1989. The decrease was, however, restricted to females. There was no significant change in the percentage of malnourished males between 1987 and 1989. In 1989 there was a significantly higher percentage of malnourished males than malnourished females. The percentage of children less than 70% reference median weight for height did not change significantly between 1987 and 1989. In 1989 significantly more males than females were malnourished, a reversal of the situation in 1986.

At the district level, only Halaib district had a percentage of malnourished children which was significantly higher than that in 1987. South Tokar was the only district to have a percentage of malnourished children higher than the province-wide mean in 1989. The continued high rates of malnutrition in males in Haya district, together with the increased rates of malnutrition in males in Rural Port Sudan are causes for concern and highlight the importance of further research into gender differences in nutritional status.

Diarrhoea and vomiting were the most frequently reported illnesses in both malnourished and severely malnourished children. All severely malnourished children had a concurrent illness, but 40% of malnourished children had no identifiable disease at the time of the survey. More information is needed about the functional significance of the 80% weight for height cut off to the health and development of children in Red Sea Province.

Oxfam nutritional surveillance teams met with continued fierce resistance to the weighing and measuring of children. This not only biases sampling, but is in danger of jeopardising the type of relationship between Oxfam and the Beja which is vital for successful long term development initiatives. Alternative methods of nutritional surveillance should be investigated.