ECA appeals for more investment in fighting malnutrition

Addis Ababa, 13 July 2015 (ECA) - "African countries should prioritize nutrition interventions in their budget and translate their commitments into policy actions in order to end the malnutrition problems on the continent" said Mr. Abdallah Hamdock, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Up to 40 percent of children in Africa still die because of undernutrition; two out of three people in working age population suffered from stunting as children, which limited their creativity and between 6.3 and 11.5 percent of African GDP has been lost due to causes associated to malnutrition.

Citing these statistics, Mr. Hamdock staggered the audience of the 3rd International Conference on Financing while presenting the findings of 'The cost of hunger in Africa' studies, a research commissioned by ECA, African Union Commission (AUC) and World Food Programme (WFP).

Hamdock was speaking on the panel in an event entitled "Harnessing Innovative Financing for Nutrition in Africa"under the auspices of the ongoing Third International Conference on Financing in Addis Ababa.

Hamdock said that undernutrition is not only a health or social issue, but also a serious economic issue. "More than USD 1.5 billion could be saved from reducing stunting rates," Hamdock said. He added that this money could be invested in other social and economic sectors.  "African governments should make the best use of available resources to improve nutrition interventions and establish viable financing mechanisms to mobilize domestic resources in support of those nutrition interventions".

Citing the studies of Cost of Hunger done in Rwanda, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Chad, Hamdock said that between 50 and 75 percent of the cost of inaction in addressing child undernutrition are borne by poorest families on the continent.

Speaking at the same event, His Majesty the King Letsie III of Lesotho, who is also AUC nutrition Champion re-emphasized that despite the gains made in fighting nutrition, the continent still struggles with a high rate of malnutrition and is confronted with so many nutrition related non communicable diseases.

"Over 50 million African Children are shorter than their potential heights and Africa has many women who die of childbirth because of poor nutrition", the king said calling African governments and donors to develop appropriate financing mechanism and increase investment in nutrition.

King Letsie III launched the revised African Regional nutrition strategy 2015-2025, which draws on the lessons learnt in fighting malnutrition on the continent and further takes into account several global initiatives including post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal

He further appealed to AU member states for increased political commitment and mobilise resources both financial and human capacity.


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