African leaders make economic case for investing in nutrition
Increasing investment to meet
World Health Assembly
targets for malnutrition could yield US$83 billion in additional GDP growth in 15 African countries, according to new analysis released by the
Global Panel on Agricultural and Food Systems for Nutrition
at the
African Development Bank’s
Annual Meetings
in Lusaka, Zambia. A session on achieving nutritional security also provided the backdrop for the release of an Africa-specific investment framework developed by the
World Bank
and
Results for Development
. The framework suggests that the human and economic benefits of achieving these targets as they relate to stunting, wasting, anaemia, and breastfeeding, could be unlocked by increasing investment by just US$2.7 billion annually over the ten-year period leading up to 2025. “Poor nutrition has cast a long shadow over entire generations, denying children, communities, and nations from reaching their full potential,” said Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General and Chair of the
Kofi Annan Foundation
. “One of the most critical steps we can collectively take to achieve nutrition security is to transform the continent’s agricultural sector. If African agriculture is to be truly transformed, investments must flow through the smallholder farmers, particularly women farmers and their families.” The framework used to calculate the cost of investing in nutrition identified Vitamin A supplementation, policies that support breastfeeding, and food fortification as the most cost-effective interventions. In highlighting the need for political leadership Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, and John Kufour, former President of Ghana and Co-Chair of the Global Panel, revealed during their presentations that they intend to create a new group, the African Leaders for Nutrition. The African Leaders for Nutrition will aim to bring together the Heads of State, Finance Ministers, and leaders from key sectors across the continent to champion nutrition and was welcomed by Bill Gates, who addressed delegates via a video message. “With African countries leading the way, we can accelerate progress against malnutrition and unlock the potential of children everywhere,” said Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We have a set of cost-effective interventions that, if scaled up globally, would save 2.2 million lives and reduce the number of stunted children by 50 million in the next ten years.” The
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
provided funding for the framework and the session in Lusaka was intended to build on the Invest in Nutrition event in which Gates, Adesina, and other global development leaders launched the investment framework for nutrition during the
World Bank Annual Meetings
in Washington DC in April.
By Adam Pitt
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Photo: AFDB