DHAKA: The true cost of malnutrition for Bangladesh is over Tk 7,000 crore ($1 billion) in lost economic productivity each year.
The US Government, through its principal development agency, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government jointly unveiled results of a study.
The study showed that malnutrition in Bangladesh causes deaths of thousands of mothers and children and limits the educational potential of Bangladeshi youth.
In a meeting with the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, USAID unveiled two new studies to help guide investments in nutrition.
The PROFILES, a statistical tool, estimates the consequences of poor nutrition on development outcomes such as mortality, disability, and economic productivity.
PROFILES also can estimate the benefits of improved nutrition in terms of lives saved and gains in economic productivity.
A second cost model estimates the cost of providing maternal and child nutrition services at scale in Bangladesh.
Both studies used a consensus-building consultative process with key stakeholders including the Government of Bangladesh and nongovernmental organizations to generate the results.
The studies were completed by the USAID Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project III (FANTA), implemented by FHI 360 and Research, Training, and Management International (RTM).
The results show that for the period 2011-2021, increased investment in proven, effective nutrition interventions implemented at scale would save the lives of more than 200,000 children in Bangladesh.
The cost of providing effective nutrition services at scale is estimated in the range of Tk 900 to Tk 1,200 crore per year (US $130 to $170 million), which is only 11 percent of the total amount budgeted for the Health, Population and Nutrition sector.
According to the study, the net benefit of these investments in nutrition in terms of increased economic productivity alone will exceed Tk 70,000 crore (US $10 billion) by 2021.
In a statement during the dissemination meeting, USAID Bangladesh Mission Director Richard Greene noted that the goal of the study dissemination is to enable stakeholders from across government sectors to gain a better understanding of the long-term consequences of malnutrition and the resources required to reduce malnutrition in Bangladesh.
He also emphasized the need to allocate necessary resources for implementing proven nutrition interventions at scale and across sectors, and champion nutrition at national, regional and district levels.
The US Government, through USAID, has provided over $5.8 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971.
In 2011 alone, USAID provided more than $180 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh.
USAID supports programmes in Bangladesh that: promote democratic institutions and practices; expand food security and economic opportunity; improve health and education services; and increase resiliency to climate change through adaptation and low carbon development.
BDST: 1910 HRS, JUN 25, 2012
Edited by: Abul Kalam Azad, Newsroom Editor, M. Mahbub Alam, Asst Output Editor