Malnutrition could claim lives of more 10,000 children per month may die this year from malnutrition amid the COVID-19 crisis, the head of the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday.
In his address at UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) conference, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he expected a 14 per cent rise -- 6.7 million more people -- in cases of severe child malnutrition this year due to the pandemic, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, reports Reuters.
“We cannot accept a world where the rich have access to healthy diets while the poor are left behind... the rich can afford to stay home, the poor must go out to work,” he said.
After the economic devastation of the pandemic, governments must work with the private sector and civil society to support sustainable food systems and end subsidies for producers of unhealthy foods, the WHO director general added.
Millions of lives could be saved if countries expanded childhood feeding programmes, reduced marketing of unhealthy foods and used fiscal policies to drive better food choices amongst consumers, he said.
“COVID has reminded us that life is fragile, health is precious, and healthy diets are not just for the wealthy, they’re a human right,” he said.
“The pandemic has caused serious disruptions to essential services, immunisation, maternal services, child nutrition, family planning and more.”