By this point, most Americans are aware of the health implications of COVID-19 in developing countries. Africa has had 1.25 million confirmed cases of the virus. India, now experiencing the fastest growth rate globally, has roughly 3.7 million cases. Shortages of doctors and equipment have made contracting the virus much more dangerous in many of these places, and the increased demand on these resources is endangering many with underlying conditions, even if they don’t have the novel coronavirus.
But it’s not just the availability of healthcare that will devastate countries like Sudan and Haiti. It’s the food shortages. In fact, more people could die of hunger linked to COVID-19 than from the virus itself.
With millions of people on lockdown, their ability to work has been limited. This means many cannot afford to eat. Those who are working may be finding that their incomes have diminished significantly. According to the World Bank, global production levels for staples like rice, wheat and maize are near all-time highs, but “the prices of certain cash crops – an important source of rural income – have been depressed by the slowing of global demand.” More than 820 million people were already food insecure before the pandemic, but now the United Nations World Food Programme has estimated that 265 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020.
The global food supply chain has also been disrupted. There is food available, but it’s not getting where it needs to go. “Transportation restrictions have made it difficult for farmers to obtain seeds and fertilizer” and send harvests to local food markets, according to a TIME report. Trade between countries has slowed, and continued flooding and violence have impeded food cultivation. To make matters more complicated, the worst locust outbreak in 70 years is threatening the food supply of nearly 5 million people in Africa.
Meanwhile, other diseases like tuberculosis are spreading. It’s a little-known fact that tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people each year. In the U.S., we’re shielded from the devastation of diseases like this. But now, about four-fifths of global tuberculosis, H.I.V. and malaria programs have reported disruptions in services. People aren’t able to get the treatment they need because of closed clinics and travel restrictions. And more sick people in a family means fewer people working and less money and food for that family.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Tim Breene