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Rising cases of malnourished children in Africa worrisome, says AfDB

African Children

Alexander Davis

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AfDB), has expressed concern over the rising cases of stunted children caused by malnutrition in Africa.

Dr. Adesina expresses concern at the African Leaders for Nutrition High-Level Dinner for Heads of State at Addisa Ababa, Ethiopia.

Agency report indicates that the bank’s Communications and External Relations Department in a statement Sunday, February 9 said the AfDB President explained that Africa is the only continent where the number of stunted children had increased over the last two decades.

He said the stunted children in Africa had increased to 58.5 million in 2018, from 50.3 million at the turn of the century.

According to him, of the 39 per cent of the world’s stunted children and 28 per cent of the world’s wasted children are in Africa.

“They are prone to inhibited intellectual and physical growth, and sometimes even premature death. These are not just statistics. These are people. Our children.

“Like I have always said, stunted children in Africa today mean stunted economies tomorrow.

We know that a loss in adult height by just one per cent due to childhood stunting can lead to a 1.4 per cent loss in economic productivity.

“We cannot, and we will not, accept this. We must turn the tide. And to turn the tide, you need Leaders. And you, present here today, are the Leaders,” he declared.

Adesina further stated: “In my culture, there is a saying elders can’t be in the market place and observe a baby’s neck slump over their mother’s back.

“You, our Heads of State and other leaders present here today, are our elders. We are in a market place where the heads of babies are slumping. As elders, we can’t let this happen.

“We need you, the elders, to turn the tide,” he said.

He added that it was because of this development that AfDB set up the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) where it brought together Heads of State, Finance Ministers and other eminent leaders.

The aim of bringing these leaders together was to raise awareness, ensure accountability, and reinforce investment by African governments to end malnutrition among children, he said.

According to him, a lot has been achieved since it kicked off at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, in February 2019.

“The bank will continue to work with all of you to design and implement investments to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms, and promote safe, affordable, accessible and healthier diets.

“That is why the AfDB also inaugurated the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to help scale up Africa’s agricultural productivity by delivering high yielding and nutritious seed varieties such as water efficient maize, orange fleshed sweet potatoes and high iron beans,” he added.

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