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Undernutrition takes a toll on Ghana’s economy - study

Aug. 5, 2016, 11:18 p.m.

A study has revealed that Ghana’s economy loses almost GHc 4.6 billion a year to the effects of child undernutrition.

This revelation came to the fore at the launch of the findings of a study on “Child Undernutrition in Ghana”, at the Accra International Conference Center. Last Tuesday, August 2, 2016.

The study dubbed “The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA), was organized by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) as part of an Africa Union Commission initiative.

The results show huge amounts being lost through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the educational system and the lower productivity by its workforce.

Stunting in children

Stunting occurs when children miss out on critical nutrients – including proteins, vitamins and minerals – while in the womb and in the first –two years of life. Thus making the consequence of stunting (low height for age) a particular concern. This is compounded by diseases and poor hygienic practices. Also, people who are affected by stunting, face lifelong consequences starting in childhood, such as frequent illness, poor school performance, having to repeat classes or dropping out completely, and a low workplace productivity. 

Among other findings, the COHA report revealed that:

• 37% of the adult population in Ghana suffered from stunting as children
• 24% of all child mortality cases in Ghana are associated with undernutrition
• Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Ghana’s workforce by 7.3%

Ghana has made some progress in improving child nutrition over the past two decades, reducing chronic malnutrition or stunting from 23 to 19 percent. However, this study highlights the critical need for further progress.

“ At the Africa Union (AU), we believe that the realization of Agenda 2063 and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will not be possible without fully harnessing the potential of all sectors of the population and this includes our children”, Head of AU;s Commission of Health Margaret Agama Nyetei said.

Present at the launch, were distinguished persons who took turns to throw more light on the hunger situation in Ghana and Africa as a whole, and also proffered certain measures which when adopted will, if not eradicate the problem, reduce it to the barest minimum.

Source: Ghanaweb