Ghana loses GH¢4.6b yearly to child undernutrition – Report

malnutritionA new Cost of Hunger in Africa: the Social and Economic Impact of Child Undernutrition on Ghana’s Long-Term Development (COHA) report says the economy of Ghana is losing some GH¢4.6 billion, approximately $2.6 billion, or 6.4 per cent of GDP every year to the effects of child undernutrition.

The report shows vast amounts being lost through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the education system and lower productivity by Ghana’s workforce.

According to the report released in Accra August 2, 2016, the consequences of stunting (low height for age) are of particular concern.

“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. This is compounded by diseases and poor hygiene practices. People affected by stunting face lifelong consequences starting in childhood such as frequent illness, poor school performance, having to repeat classes or dropping out altogether, and low workplace productivity,” it said.

In a press release issued in Accra and copied to, the authors of the report note that among other things they found that 37 per cent of the adult population in Ghana suffered from stunting as children; 24 per cent of all child mortality cases in the country are associated with undernutrition, and child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Ghana’s workforce by 7.3 per cent.

The report also pointed out that Ghana has made some progress in improving child nutrition over the past two decades, reducing chronic malnutrition or stunting from 23 to 19 per cent.

“However, this study highlights the critical need for further progress,” it said.

The COHA report is led by the African Union Commission (AUC), in partnership with African governments, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA); the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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