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The Economic Burden of Malnutrition in Pregnant Women and Children under 5 Years of Age in Cambodia
Authors: Regina Moench-Pfanner, Sok Silo, Arnaud Laillou, Frank Wieringa, Rathamony Hong, Rathavuth Hong, Etienne Poirot, and Jack Bagriansky
Source: Nutrients, 8(5): 292; DOI: 10.3390/nu8050292
Topic(s): Child health
Children under five
Reproductive health
Women's health
Country: Asia
Published: MAY 2016
Abstract: Malnutrition is locked in a vicious cycle of increased mortality, poor health, impaired cognitive development, slow physical growth, reduced learning capacity, inferior performance, and ultimately lower adult work performance and productivity. The consensus of global scientific evidence indicates that lowering the rates of malnutrition will be an indispensable component of any successful program to raise the quality of human capital and resources. This study used a “consequence model” to apply the coefficient risk-deficit on economic losses, established in the global scientific literature, to Cambodian health, demographic, and economic data to develop a national estimate of the value of economic losses due to malnutrition. The impact of the indicators of malnutrition analyzed represent a burden to the national economy of Cambodia estimated at 266 million USD annually (1.7% of GDP). Stunting is reducing the Cambodian economic output by more than 120 million USD, and iodine deficiency disorders alone by 57 million USD. This economic burden is too high in view of Cambodia’s efforts to drive economic development. The government should rapidly expand a range of low-cost effective nutrition interventions to break the current cycle of increased mortality, poor health and ultimately lower work performance, productivity, and earnings. Keywords: malnutrition, stunting, economic burden, Cambodia, Demographic Health Survey, 2014