Child undernutrition costs Burkina Faso US$802 million a year

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Prenatal care in Burkina Faso. UN PHOTO/Ollivier Girard

The West African country of Burkina Faso loses more than US$800 million annually due to child undernutrition.That's according to a new study which says increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the educational system and lower workforce productivity are behind this loss.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa study was launched on Tuesday by several partners including the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Dianne Penn reports.

The study covers 12 countries and shows that undernutrition is not just a health issue, but has broader social and economic implications.

It finds that in Burkina Faso, more children today suffer from stunting than a decade ago.

Stunting—or low height for age–occurs when a child misses out on critical nutrients while in the womb and in the first two years of life.

It can cause lifelong consequences, including frequent illness, poor school performance and having to repeat classes or even drop out of school altogether.

Elisabeth Byrs is WFP spokesperson in Geneva:

"In addition, more than half of the country's adult population was affected by stunting in their childhood. This represents over 4.7 million people of working age who are not able to reach their full potential."

The report says childhood stunting is also behind a loss of more than US$70 million in rural Burkina Faso, where the majority of people are engaged in manual work.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’04″

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