Chronic Malnutrition Among Children Costs Sub-Saharan Africa $25B Annually, UNICEF Conference Says

High rates of chronic malnutrition among children in sub-Saharan Africa cost the region $25 billion a year, according to “a UNICEF conference on child malnutrition that wrapped up Wednesday in Paris,” VOA News reports. The conference brought together “humanitarian agencies and representatives from 35 African countries, … just weeks before G8 leaders discuss ways to combat malnutrition at a summit in Northern Ireland,” the news agency notes (Bryant, 5/15). “The meeting agreed it was urgent that governments in countries affected by child malnutrition accelerate the implementation of proactive, multi-sectoral and decentralized public policies with the clear objective of reducing the prevalence of malnutrition among children,” a UNICEF press release states, adding, “Ministers and parliamentarians from sub-Saharan Africa made concrete public commitments at the meeting to take national action.”

According to the press release, “the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted €30 million [$38.5 million] — the proceeds of its new tax on financial transactions — to promote the health of children in the Sahel, with a special emphasis on nutrition.” The press release notes, “The total of €3 billion [$3.85 billion] needed each year for Africa to combat child malnutrition fully would in the first year alone allow 22 million young African children to escape chronic malnutrition” (5/15). The conference was “[o]rganized in partnership with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Development Agency, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Against Hunger, Doctors Without Borders, and the NGO Alliance for International Medical Action,” according to a UNICEF media advisory (5/8).

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