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.
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