News / Health

Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutrition

Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutritioni
X
July 16, 2013 10:45 PM
Experts say funding child nutrition is the highest profit-yielding strategy any country can take. If children are starving, they get sick more easily, need more costly health care, and earn less than adults who had the right nutrition. VOA’s Carol Pearson reports on the economics of preventing child malnutrition.
Findings Could Help Slash Child Malnutrition
Carol Pearson
Experts say funding child nutrition is the highest profit-yielding strategy any country can take.  If children are starving, they get sick more easily, need more costly health care, and earn less than adults who had the right nutrition. 
 
Child malnutrition is a global problem. It exists even in rich countries. It affects a large number of children in Asia, especially in south Asia. 
 
In parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, it threatens child survival. 
 
Dr. Peter Salama represents UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, in Ethiopia. 
 
"Almost every country in Africa today has an acute rate of malnutrition. The question is how high it goes," he said. 
 
New studies published in the Lancet medical journal show that malnutrition causes 45 percent of all deaths in children under the age of five. Other children suffer stunting, meaning their body and brain fail to develop properly.
 
The problem starts in the womb, says Dr. Robert Black of Johns Hopkins University, who headed the series. 
 
“Undernourished mothers have fetuses that don’t grow as well, so fetal growth restriction itself is a problem.  Babies who are born small for their gestational age have increased mortality and increased stunting and developmental problems later," he said. 
 
The researchers say if countries take some simple measures, they can save the lives of one million children a year. 
 
The proposals include giving pregnant women folic acid and calcium supplements, promoting breast feeding, and giving young children vitamin A and zinc supplements.   
 
The Lancet reports that cutting child malnutrition by 20 percent would cost nine billion dollars.
 
Harold Alderman is with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington and one of the Lancet series' authors.   
 
“For every dollar invested, you can get between eight and ten dollars of economic returns," he said. "And when I do these studies, I say 'look, nobody knows how to say how valuable is saving a life.'" 
 
Alderman says governments profit when they keep children well fed. 
 
“I’m a little puzzled as to why governments still think of investments in nutrition, as how you compensate the poor, 'but we’ll do our productive investments elsewhere.' These are productive investments. There is no question. The numbers are there," he said. 
 
Alderman says investing in child nutrition will improve a country’s economy because well-fed children do better in school and eventually become a stronger labor force. That statement is supported by other research showing that adults who were malnourished as children earn 20 percent less than those who had proper nutrition.  
 
Trustina Sabah contributed to this report.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chuck Spohr from: USA
July 17, 2013 1:41 PM
Thank you to VOA for publishing this article and Ms Pearson for this part of her career reporting on large organizations dealing with these problems. I am hoping it is no more than ignorance that is keeping many children from receiving the simple nutrients that could make so much of a difference. Ms Pearson, please consider investigating what NGOs would be very effective with this problem.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid