World Bank: Vitamin Deficiencies Cost Nigeria $1.5 Billion Annually

March 11, 2016Nigeriaby EW News Desk Team

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While most parents caution their children that it is important to get all of their vitamins and minerals, few probably realize the important role that advice can play in a nation’s economy. According to a World Bank Specialist on Welfare Economics (Professor Foluso Okunmadewa), Nigeria loses an estimate $1.5 billion from its gross domestic product (GDP) each year due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Okunmadewa remarks came during a Stakeholders’ Dialogue flowing out of the Draft National Policy on Food and Nutrition (NPFN) held by the Nigerian government on Thursday in Abuja. Okunmadewa congratulated Nigeria on recognizing this enormous drag on its economy and taking steps to do something about it. However, he still expressed concern about the ongoing problem and upward trends in wasting and malnutrition.

According to Okunmadewa and the World Bank, the cost of so-called “nutrition interventions” are high, but also very effective at boosting a nation’s GDP. The World Bank feels that only by finding ways to ensure a steady supply of nutritious food for its people can Nigeria reach its full economic potential.

Okunmadewa was joined by Paul Mudzongo, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist. He agreed that Nigeria’s new focus on nutrition policy would serve as an important instrument in bolstering not only the nation’s economy, but also its overall health and happiness. He agreed with Okunmadewa’s assessment that linking the needs for better nutrition with economic growth was the best way to ensure these policies would succeed.

“Implementation is what is critical for us as an organization, so let us move on to the next stage and I think UNICEF stands ready to support the policy’s implementation … One day, the policy will require an action plan and we will be ready to support the process of developing an action plan to support the policy.”

If adopted and successfully executed, the NPFN will provide the necessary framework to create the nation’s much needed improvements to food supply and overall nutrition. The policy will strengthen relationships between government agencies and private sector partners, recognizing the need for both government and private interests to achieve lasting change in the African nation. Among proposals, subsidies for food, education about nutrition, and policies designed to incentivize private investment in the infrastructure are needed to carry out these goals.

As of 2015, the International Monetary Fund ranked Nigeria’s economy as the 21st largest in the world by GDP, but also has the 31st highest rate for deaths by malnutrition in the world with approximately 31 of every 100,000 citizens dying in this manner.

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