Experts warn: Global food crisis could lead to new pandemics

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Global food crisis could lead to new pandemics

Experts warn that the global food crisis will invite epidemics and could lead to millions of deaths

Global food crisis could lead to new pandemics
Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Reuters)

Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine will make the most vulnerable a target for infectious diseases. Sands warned that the risk of global famine could kill millions of people and cause the world’s next health catastrophe.

The Russian naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has halted grain shipments from the world’s fourth largest wheat and corn exporter, raising concerns of supply shortages and hunger in low-income countries.

Sands said the indirect effects of food shortages are not only hunger, but people can die from malnutrition, infectious diseases and weakened immunity, AFP reported.

In an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the G20 health ministers’ meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Sands said, “Our next health crisis has begun. This is not a new infection, but it means that malnourished people will be more susceptible to existing diseases.” The combined impact of infectious disease, food shortages and the energy crisis could cause millions of additional deaths, Sands said.

The former British banker, who currently heads a $4 billion fund, said the world’s governments should mitigate the impact of the food crisis by providing health care to the poor, who will be the most vulnerable in society, saying, “This means focusing on primary health care so that health care is provided in villages and communities. It’s important to provide it in hospitals, but primary health care is the most important thing when we face this kind of challenge.”

Sands said, “Tuberculosis was a disaster. In 2020, the number of people treated for tuberculosis decreased by 1.5 million. This means hundreds of thousands of people will die and infect other people.”

Sands noted that solving the food crisis is critical to help fight the world’s second deadliest infectious disease.

The West and Ukraine accuse Russia of trying to force a compromise by banning vital grain exports to raise fears of global famine.

Russia has responded to the accusations by saying Western sanctions are responsible for supply shortages in the Middle East and Africa.

Germany will host a meeting on the Global Food Security crisis tomorrow. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will also attend the meeting.

Referring to Tuberculosis, Sands said that this is a pandemic of poverty, so there should be simultaneous investment in research and development.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat


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