Ending the Scourge of Child Malnutrition in Africa: Causes, Consequences and a Call for Urgent Action; A Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Slum and Rural Health Initiative Research Academy, Ibadan, Nigeria

2 University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

3 Pan African University of Life and Earth Sciences Institute, Ibadan, Nigeria


With over one-third of the global under 5 stunting cases and a quarter of both the under 5 wasting and overweight cases in 2018, Africa is disproportionately affected by all forms of malnutrition.Furthermore, despite a reduction of childhood stunting in other regions of the world between 2000 and 2018, Africa is the only continent, where the number has increased from about 50 million in 2000 to almost 59 million under 5 stunting cases in 2018. The Global Nutrition Report in 2018 also revealed that 30 of the 41 countries worldwide with a high burden of the three types of malnutrition are from Africa. Economic consequences are estimated 11% of African countries’ GDP lost every year due to unacceptably high levels of malnutrition. For African countries to end all forms of malnutrition, there is a need for political commitment and increased financial investment in nutrition interventional programs, strengthening the evidence-base on key nutrition indicators is also important. Also, bolstering the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programs tackling malnutrition while building the research and leadership capacity of workers in this sector is crucial. International partners must also identify shared drivers of the double burden and establish comprehensive ‘double-duty’ interventions that simultaneously address the double burden of malnutrition. African countries must boost intersectoral actions through the strengthening of their security, agricultural, environmental, economic, and housing sectors while concurrently drive international and grassroots support for comprehensive evidence-informed nutritional interventions to put an end to all forms of malnutrition by 2030.