Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports has halted grain exports from the world’s 4th largest exporter of wheat and corn, threatening food supplies in many countries.
However, these food shortages risk not only leading to famines but also weakening the resistance of populations exposed to infectious diseases because of deficient nutrition, underlined Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to AFP this week. .
“I think the next health crisis has probably already started. It’s not a new virus but it’s the fact that many malnourished people will be more vulnerable to existing viruses,” he explained during the interview. an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 health ministers in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
“I think the combined impact of infectious diseases, food shortages and the energy crisis… can cause millions more deaths.”
World governments “must prioritize primary health care, care provided in villages, communities”, to reduce the impact of the food crisis in the poorest and most vulnerable populations, underlined the Briton at the head of the Fund which weighs four billion dollars.
The battle against the coronavirus has taken resources from the fight against tuberculosis, which killed 1.5 million people in 2020, according to figures from the World Health Organization.
“It was a disaster for tuberculosis.” “In 2020, there were 1.5 million fewer people treated for tuberculosis and unfortunately this means that hundreds of thousands of people will die from it but also that they will infect others”.
For this health expert, solving the food crisis is essential to fight against tuberculosis, the second deadliest infectious disease in the world.
Westerners accuse Russia of pressuring for concessions by blocking vital grain exports, which threatens many countries with famine, which Moscow denies.
Germany is organizing an international conference on the food crisis on Friday, in the presence of the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken.
Tuberculosis “is the pandemic of the poor, which is why it has not attracted as much investment in research and development”, underlines Peter Sands.
“It is a tragedy because it is a disease that we know how to prevent, cure and which we can get rid of”.