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Underfed kids costly

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By OGIA MIAMEL
A NEW report reveals that child under-nutrition in PNG cost the economy the equivalent of K1.5 billion ($US508 million) in the 2015-2016 financial year.
Save the Children PNG head of policy and advocacy Majella Hurney said their report was done in collaboration with Frontier Economics Short Changed: The Human and Economic Cost of Child Under-nutrition in Papua New Guinea and released in June.
“Frontier Economics estimates that child undernutrition cost the PNG economy through three ways:

  • Losses in productivity from reduction in labour force due to increased childhood mortality;
  • Losses in potential income and productivity from poor physical status and reduced cognitive function, and;
  •  Losses from increased health care expenditure in treating diseases associated with childhood undernutrition.

Hurney said malnutrition did not only pose a threat to the survival and development of over half a million children in PNG but also to sustainable economic growth “because human and economic costs of malnutrition are inseparably linked”.
“Evidence shows that a child will suffer cognitive and physical impairments if they are undernourished in the first 1000 days of their life – from pregnancy to their second birthday,” she said.
“Tragically these impairments are permanent and irreversible. If stunted, a child’s brain and body will never fully develop. This will limit their cognitive and physical development, which in turn impacts on their ability to learn, gain an education, earn a living and contribute productively to society.”

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