A global health expert has warned governments against making a “classic” post-pandemic mistake as an uneasy situation looms.
A leading global health figure has warned that the next global health crisis could come in the form of food shortages as the price of basic necessities skyrockets even in the wealthiest countries.
Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, believes a food shortage could be “as deadly” as an airborne pandemic if authorities don’t prepare.
According to Sands, after more than two years of complete restructuring of the world following the emergence of a respiratory virus, governments must now prepare for an even more complicated beast.
Australia is already starting to see early signs of food stress as lettuce prices hit an incredible $12 per capita in some areas after the flood season. Natural disasters, coupled with inflation and complications in the global trade industry, could set off a perfect storm as the world begins to turn.
Sands, who works in areas already suffering from poverty and malnutrition, says wealthy governments risk making the “classic” mistake of only dealing with crises that reflect the most recent disaster facing the world. has had.
“It’s not as well defined as a brand new pathogen that shows up with distinctive new symptoms. But it could be just as deadly,” he said via Reuters†
Sands said governments needed to strengthen health systems to prepare for the health impacts of food shortages.
While it’s unclear how devastating accelerated food shortages could be for a first-world country like Australia, health experts have urged leaders to stay vigilant.
The Global Fund aims to raise $18 billion to boost global health systems and has already raised more than a third of its 2024-2026 target.
dr. Ro McFarlane, the University of Canberra’s environmental public health expert, says: global food production and delivery system appears to be just as vulnerable as silicone chips, clothing, toys and fuels.
“We’ve been talking about these scenarios for 50 years,” Dr. McFarlane news.com.au in May.
“We have speculated. We are measuring. We’ve applied our minds to creating predictive models. But for various reasons, we have not been taken particularly seriously.”
“We’ve centralized and commodified and simplified all the food we eat,” she explains. “That makes it incredibly vulnerable to the extreme weather events currently happening in Canada, the US and Australia. The capacity to handle a conflict like that between Russia and Ukraine is just not there.”
“It’s about the incredible implications of not doing it right. It goes beyond conflict and social unrest. It’s also a national health problem,” continued Dr. McFarlane, pointing to the potential pressures of climate change on food supplies around the world.
“In an ideal world, if you could get the currently sufficiently produced amount of food into everyone’s mouths, it would be good. But that won’t be the case with climate change — unless we’re really smart.”
In the US, President Joe Biden has continued to warn of food shortages due to “Russian sanctions” as prices for supermarket commodities and fuel in the country continue to rise by 330 million.
Stefan Vogel, chief executive of food and agricultural research in Australia and New Zealand, said the conflict will lead to a massive shortage of grain this year and beyond.
“Last year Ukraine exported 70 million tons of grain, twice the amount coming from Australia… but this year it will be a fraction of that,” said Mr Vogel.
“Volumes will be reduced by at least 45 percent and probably more.”
Last month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned of “the specter of a global food shortage in the coming months” without the intervention of international leaders.
According to UN figuresthe number of severely food insecure people has doubled in the past two years, from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today.
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