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Where life is worse than death
A generation that lives with tumultuous present and wasted future
Sub-Saharan Africa, for ages, has faced the malnutrition curse (Africa alone accounts for over 40% of deaths under 5 years of age worldwide). The key reason for that remains as malnutrition. More worrying than the deaths has been the fact that about 33 million children under 5 are living with extreme malnutrition. Their existence then becomes worse than a death sentence, as they grow up stunted and retarded with physical and mental problems. Of sorrow is the fact that various UN surveys from 1995 to 2003 have declared more than a third of under 5 sub-Saharan children to be stunted.
The problem is especially acute in countries like Ethiopia, Somalia and Central African Republic among others. “Malnutrition has seriously affected the intellectual situation (of Ethiopia’s children) and also their productivity,” bemoans Dr. Girma Akalu, Ethiopia’s leading nutrition expert. The top notch Canadian research organisation, The Micronutrient Initiative, further reported in 2004 that “over half of sub-Saharan children ‘under 5’ lack ‘irons’, which leads to problems in coordinating brain signals to movements.” Another 3.5 million children lack sufficient iodine, which can lower a child’s IQ by 10 or more points. More than half a million suffer Vitamin A deficiency, which cripples their immune systems. Sub-Saharan Africa loses productivity from vitamin and mineral deficiencies to up to $2.3 billion a year. UNICEF reports that losses of productivity in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi exceed 1% of their GDP – an extremely high figure, considering that sub-Saharan countries have had an annual GDP growth rate of just around 1.1% over the last 15 years (UNICEF: State of the World’s Children 2007). While the world despicably ignores their plight, sub-Saharan Africa crumbles, childlike.
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