Investments needed to strengthen health systems to help prepare for the repercussions of food shortages.
LONDON – A top global health official has warned that growing food shortages may pose the same health threat to the world as the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, said that rising food and energy prices, caused in part by the conflict in Ukraine, might kill millions both directly and indirectly.
How Food Shortages Affect Our Health
“Food scarcity affects people in two ways. You have the tragedy of people starving to death, for example. However, the fact that many more people are malnourished, making them more susceptible to existing diseases, is the second factor to consider,” he stated.
He said efforts to improve pandemic preparedness should not make the “classic” mistake of concerning themselves only with crises that resemble the most recent threat the world has faced.
“It’s not as well-defined as some brand new pathogen appearing with distinctive new symptoms. But it could well be just as deadly,” he said.
The World Health Organization estimates that 15 million people may have died as a result of COVID-19.
Sands said investment was needed to strengthen health systems to help prepare for the repercussions of food shortages, which is part of the Global Fund’s remit.
The Geneva, Switzerland-based fund is aiming to raise $18 billion to boost health systems, fight the three core diseases in its title, and reverse setbacks caused by the pandemic. It has raised just over a third of its target for 2024-2026. – Reuters