Uganda Seen Losing $899 Million a Year on Malnutrition in Report

Uganda loses about $899 million a year due to effects of malnutrition such as lost productivity, according to a report backed by the African Union Commission.

A study called The Cost of Hunger in Africa found losses equal to about 5.6 percent of Uganda’s gross domestic product because workers get sick more often and are less productive after lacking the right nutrition as children, the Rome-based World Food Programme wrote in an online statement today.

Uganda’s economy has grown an average 5 percent annually in the past three years, said WFP, part of the United Nations. The country still has high levels of malnutrition, with 5 percent of its children suffering from stunting resulting from a lack of key nutrients in the womb or the first five years of life, the WFP said.

The study “for the first time measures the economic burden of hunger on the continent,” the WFP said. “Widespread malnutrition costs the central African nation of Uganda hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”

Findings for Egypt, Ethiopia and Swaziland will be released in coming weeks, with the study surveying a total of 12 African countries including Kenya and Ghana, the WFP said.

In Uganda, malnourished children dropping out of school or under-performing costs about $116 million in a country in need of skilled workers, while lower output in industries including farming costs a further $201 million a year, the report showed.

The country spends about $254 million a year to treat cases of diarrhea, anemia and respiratory infections linked to malnutrition. Enough children die from hunger-related causes each year to reduce Uganda’s workforce by 3.8 percent, resulting in 934 million hours a year lost due to an absent workforce, the WFP said.

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