Feeding Resilience: Govts need to realign their public spending for better health, nutrition

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Published: May 20, 2020 5:15:43 AM

There are around two billion people globally who are affected with iron, iodide, folate, vitamin A, and zinc deficiencies.

Policymakers must assure food is available at affordable prices for poor communities. (Representative image)Policymakers must assure food is available at affordable prices for poor communities. (Representative image)

Without complete food security, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic will exact much greater costs from humanity than it would have otherwise. While a report by the World Food Programme estimated 135 million people in 55 countries to have faced acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2019, the pandemic and the various national responses to it are disrupting global food supply chains, which will mean a further increase in malnutrition. That, in turn, means decreased immunity and a larger number of affected and dead. There are around two billion people globally who are affected with iron, iodide, folate, vitamin A, and zinc deficiencies. All these are important components for maintaining a healthy immunity system.

According to WHO, in 2010, unsafe food caused around 420,000 premature deaths and 600 million illness. Lack of access to fresh produce has caused a spike in consumption of junk food. Around two billion people globally are obese, with 70% of them being in low- and middle-income countries. And, people with pre-existing diet conditions like diabetes or severe obesity are at a greater risk of complications from Covid-19 than those without. Policymakers must assure food is available at affordable prices for poor communities. And, the ones who can’t afford it must be covered by safety-net programmes. The focus of nutrition programmes should not just be on calorie intake but also on nutrient intake. Governments will have to realign their public spending for better health and nutrition.

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