Malnutrition is locked in a vicious cycle of increased mortality, poor health, retarded cognitive development, slow physical growth, diminished 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 presentation used a “consequence model” to apply these “coefficients of loss” established in the global scientific literature to Cambodian health, demographic and economic data to develop a national estimation of the value of economic losses linked to malnutrition and especially micronutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12, Zinc and iodine).
The impact of the indicators of malnutrition analyzed represent a burden to the national economy of Cambodia estimated at 145 to 266 million USD annually (0.9-1.7% of GDP) depending on the interest used (3 or 7%). While stunting is representing 30-45% of this burden, micronutrient deficiencies is reducing the Cambodian economic output by 78-89 million USD. Zinc and iodine deficiency disorders in Cambodia alone represents 80% of the micronutrient deficiency burden. The loss of productivity of anemia remains but most of it has no relationship with nutrition deficiencies.
This economic burden is too high in view of Cambodia’s efforts to drive economic development and 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.