Child malnutrition costs Africa its future growth

Tue Aug 5, 2014 7:45am GMT

“If we are leaving one-third to 40 percent of our people on the roadside, we will not make it (economically). It is a generation that is gone and it will take 25 to 30 years to correct,” Diop said.

Nigeria’s Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said the benefits of improved child nutrition include raising school performance and lifting overall intelligence levels, which in turn will deliver significant results over time to a country.

“We invest so much in infrastructure, in bridges and in roads. But most important is grey matter. We really need to invest in that,” said Adesina.

The nutrition programs that have delivered the best results focus on the first 1,000 days of a child's life to promote breast-feeding, improve sanitation, and boost vitamin and mineral supplements, experts said.

So far programs have been uncoordinated, said Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda's minister of health. "We are making the mistakes we made 20 years ago with HIV/AIDS. We know what to do, but we are not playing as a team," she said.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim listens to a question during a news conference in New Delhi July 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
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