Poor childhood nutrition costs Malawi 10 per cent of its economic performance, or nearly $600 million U.S. annually, according to a new study. The losses are due to increased health-care expenses and the decreased productivity of the workforce.
The joint UN-Malawi government study says that 4.5 million working-age Malawians did not get enough vitamins and minerals in the first two years of life. Malnutrition early in life leads to stunted growth; those affected cannot reach their full physical potential as adults.
Felix Pensulo Phiri is director of nutrition at Malawi’s Health Ministry. He says, “As a country, we are so worried about this problem. Every year, there are certain districts that don’t have enough food.”
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Photo: A child sits on top of maize harvested in Lilongwe Rural April 22, 2008. Credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko