Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development in Africa

Babatunde Omilola and N’doh A. Sanogo*

Health, Nutrition, and Economic Development in Africa.

In fact, from conception to 15-months of age, an infant is entirely dependent for its nutrition on the mother via the placenta and then ideally via exclusive breastfeeding. This period of 24-months is the most important and vulnerable in a child’s life because it is during this period that the child’s immune system and its physical and mental capacity develop. If undernutrition occurs during these first 1000-days, it might cause stunted growth and diminished function of the brain’s grey matter, responsible for sensory perception, memory, decision-making and other function; and these consequences are irreversible.

With regard to obesity, we can say that obesity among women of childbearing age and children is increasing in Africa. Women who start pregnancy as overweight, are more likely to gain excessive weight during pregnancy, develop gestational diabetes, deliver large for gestational age or premature newborns, and are less likely to breastfeed.2,3 Among adults, obesity can lead to noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Children born to overweight women have increased risks of developing obesity that persist as they mature. Women then pass to their children an increased risk of obesity that persists into later life, perpetuating the cycle.

Firstly, maternal mortality, linked to severe Anaemia, and reduced adult life expectancy, linked to obesity and related health complications, is additional manifestations of nutrition-mortality linkages. Preventable mortality represents a loss of human capital that affects families and whole communities.

Good nutrition is widely regarded as one of the key factors for advancing human well-being and economic prosperity. Undernutrition slows economic growth and deepens poverty through productivity losses from poor physical performance and cognitive capacity. The second pathway is ill health. Treatment costs are borne by families.

Public Health Open J. 2020; 5(1): 14-16. doi: 10.17140/PHOJ-5-140