Malnutrition in Sub – Saharan Africa: burden, causes and prospects
Malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one third of all child deaths, although it is rarely listed as the direct cause. Contributing to more than half of deaths in children worldwide; child malnutrition was associated with 54% of deaths in children in developing countries in 2001. Poverty remains the major contributor to this ill. The vicious cycle of poverty, disease and illness aggravates this situation. Grooming undernourished children causes children to start life at mentally sub optimal levels. This becomes a serious developmental threat. Lack of education especially amongst women disadvantages children, especially as far as healthy practices like breastfeeding and child healthy foods are concerned. Adverse climatic conditions have also played significant roles like droughts, poor soils and deforestation. Sociocultural barriers are major hindrances in some communities, with female children usually being the most affected. Corruption and lack of government interest and investment are key players that must be addressed to solve this problem. A multisectorial approach is vital in tackling this problem. Improvement in government policy, fight against corruption, adopting a horizontal approach in implementing programmes at community level must be recognized. Genetically modified foods to increase food production and to survive adverse climatic conditions could be gateways in solving these problems. Socio cultural peculiarities of each community are an essential base line consideration for the implementation of any nutrition health promotion programs.
Key words: Malnutrition, Sub–Saharan Africa, corruption, multisectorial approach