By Ndey Sowe
Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray of the Gambia has launched the ‘Cost of Hunger in Africa’ (COHA) Study Report on Monday January 27th 2020. The COHA study report discloses and explains the social and economic impact of child malnutrition in the Gambia through the examination of three prime sectors:-health, education and productivity. The report also estimates the cost of under nutrition on the economy of the country through health, education, and labor productivity in one single year.
“Total losses associated with under nutrition in 2018 (base year for analysis), are estimated at GMD 3.96 billion or USD 83.4 million which is equivalent to 5.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”, the report states.
According to the report, this is based on the estimation of the model on the current population that identifies the percentage of population who were undernourished before the age of five, and the estimates associated the negative impacts experienced by the population during base year for analysis.
According to the Study Report, “42.5% of children are under nourished in the Gambia are estimated to receive proper health care attention. Most of the health costs associated with under nutrition occurs before a child turns one year in the Gambia. 20.3% of all child mortality cases in the Gambia are associated with under nutrition and 34.6% of all repetitions in School in the Gambia is associated to stunting.’’
Meanwhile, the report reveals that undernourished children achieve an average of 4.9 year less at School; that in addition, child mortality associated to under nutrition has reduced the country’s workforce by 3.2%.
“Eliminating stunting in the Gambia is a necessary step for sustainable development,” the report indicates.
Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray said Gambia is among 26 countries globally to validate the COHA findings 20 of which are in Africa.
‘‘This is a clear demonstration of Government and the AU’s commitment to address malnutrition on the continent. We are indeed very pleased to have participated in the study. It represents a unique and timely contribution to help us understand the impact of under nourished children in the Gambia’s socio economic development. This is in line with our quest to promote food and nutrition security in the country as indicated in the NDP,’’ she said.
Saraphine Wakana, the UN Country Representative in the Gambia said launching the report demonstrate Government’s commitment towards their investment in nutrition to achieve the SDGs; that malnutrition is a challenge as it is responsible for millions of deaths across the globe; that those who survive have suffered the consequences for the rest of their lives, such as loss of lives and under-productivity; that this does not only cause adversity of individuals in societies affected but translates to financial losses to a national economy.
Wanja Kaaria, the Country Director World Food Program (WFP) also indicated that the elimination of stunting in the Gambia is a necessary step to achieve the SDGs; that the WFP is committed to working with Government in fighting hunger globally.
Other speakers include Modou Cheyassin Phall, Executive Director at NaNA and Bakary Sanyang, the Governor of the West Coast Region.
COHA Study Report is an Africa Union initiative spearheaded by Government through the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), the Ministries of Finance, Health, Basic and Secondary Education and stakeholders such as UNICEF, FAO and WFP.