NAIROBI, March 31 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s Ministry of Health said Thursday the country loses 374 billion shillings (about 3.25 billion U.S. dollars) annually due to health, education and productivity-related costs associated with child malnutrition.

Patrick Amoth, the acting director-general for Health at the Ministry of Health, said that the impact of undernutrition in the early years results in individuals only achieving 55 percent of their potential.

“Despite the progress, the numbers are still disturbing, and clearly more needs to be done,” Amoth said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. About 22 percent of children under the age of two years are receiving a minimally acceptable diet, according to the Ministry of Health statistics. Amoth added that micronutrient deficiencies, sub-optimal infant and young child feedings are the major risk factors contributing to increased morbidity and mortality in Kenya. Amoth said that Kenya has made tremendous progress in embedding nutrition interventions in government systems by developing and planning legislation that promotes maternal, infant and young child health, noting that breastfeeding is a key public health approach to disease prevention and contributes to significant healthcare cost savings by enhancing infant nutrition. According to the Ministry of Health, efforts to improve maternal, infant and young child health require a multi-sectoral approach that tackles poor quality diets in early childhood.