News / Africa

UNICEF: Africa's Child Malnutrition Costs $25 Billion Annually

Bonko Diawara holds her 17-month-old daughter, Diarra Yattibere, as she recovers from malnutrition, at a nutrition center at Selibaby's hospital, in the Guidimakha region, Mauritania, June 2012.Bonko Diawara holds her 17-month-old daughter, Diarra Yattibere, as she recovers from malnutrition, at a nutrition center at Selibaby's hospital, in the Guidimakha region, Mauritania, June 2012.
x
Bonko Diawara holds her 17-month-old daughter, Diarra Yattibere, as she recovers from malnutrition, at a nutrition center at Selibaby's hospital, in the Guidimakha region, Mauritania, June 2012.
Bonko Diawara holds her 17-month-old daughter, Diarra Yattibere, as she recovers from malnutrition, at a nutrition center at Selibaby's hospital, in the Guidimakha region, Mauritania, June 2012.
Lisa Bryant
Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the world's highest rates of chronic malnutrition among children. Now, the United Nations children's agency has put a price tag on it: $25 billion a year. That's the conclusion of a UNICEF conference on child malnutrition that wrapped up Wednesday in Paris.

The effects of hunger often are obvious. Think about the images of skeletal children during the recent droughts in Africa's Sahel and the Horn of Africa. Stunting, or chronic malnutrition, is less easy to detect - but its effects can be equally devastating.

Worldwide, cases of chronic malnutrition have shrunk dramatically in recent decades, though much less so in Africa. UNICEF estimates that chronic child malnutrition costs African countries a staggering $25 billion a year in loss of productivity and health costs that otherwise might have been avoided.

That's one reason UNICEF France hosted a two-day international conference on chronic malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Gathering humanitarian agencies and representatives from 35 African countries, it comes just weeks before G8 leaders discuss ways to combat malnutrition at a summit in Northern Ireland.

"It's proven that because of chronic malnutrition, children can miss two to three years of school," said Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF's regional spokesman for West and Central Africa. "So actually, in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, we realize that those countries actually need that qualified manpower, but they may not have those intellectuals, those engineers, those doctors that they actually need because those children cannot reach their potential and their development as they should," said Laurent Duvillier is UNICEF's regional spokesman for West and Central Africa.

Chronic malnutrition often is described as a "hidden hunger." That's because chronically malnourished children may look normal, but in fact their physical and mental growth is impaired. Treating them during the first 1,000 days of their lives is critical, and Duvillier said experts agree the focus should be on the poorest children.
 
"It's very important that we have an integrated response, that will encompass to appropriate food but also access to safe, drinkable water and access to a health care system. And that's the difficulty of it," said Duvillier.

If the effects of chronic malnutrition are costly, experts say treating it is not. And UNICEF estimates that even modest investments in combating chronic malnutrition among children can yield stunning returns.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid