Drought and food aid in Ethiopia

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Dry earth in the desert plains of the Danakil depression in northern Ethiopia. Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN

As Ethiopia battles devastating drought, UN sends in emergency health team

With Ethiopia battling its worst drought in 30 years due to the El Niño weather pattern, with 8.2 million people already in urgent need of food aid, the United Nations has sent an emergency health team to help support the Government’s response to a crisis that is expected to become even worse over the next eight months.

“The food security emergency is coming against a background of multiple ongoing epidemics in the country,” the interim Director of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response at the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Michelle Gayer, saidtoday.

“This creates an additional burden for people’s health as well as the health system as malnutrition, especially in children, predisposes them to more severe infectious disease, which can kill quickly,” she added.

The current El Niño, among the strongest on record, caused by a cyclical warming in the Pacific Ocean, affects climate over a wide swathe of the world, bringing more floods to some areas and longer droughts to others, as well as stronger typhoons and cyclones.

Ethiopia has experienced two poor growing seasons in 2015. Due to delayed rains attributed to El Niño, its main annual harvest was severely reduced. Every month since January has seen an increase in the number of malnourished children, with 400,000 likely to face severe malnutrition in 2016. In addition, some 700,000 expecting and recent mothers are at risk for severe malnutrition.

Anticipating a major increase in health risks, WHO has mobilized drugs, equipment and human resources. Vulnerable populations, such as children requiring therapeutic feeding and health care, are particularly at risk of illness and death. El Niño can lead to significant increases in diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoea and cholera – major killers of children.

Ethiopia is one of the most affected countries by El Niño thus far. “We are very concerned that right now, there are not enough resources to provide an effective and coordinated health response across Ethiopia,” WHO Emergency Response Coordinator in Ethiopia Kebba Jaiteh said. “Without a proper response, El Niño could reverse years of progress on health for Ethiopians.”

Read the full article: UN News Centre

The longer the chain, the bigger the danger

Photo credit: UN News Centre

At an open market in Haute-Savoie, France, a vendor offers a variety of vegetables, all produced meeting standards recommended by WHO. Photo: WHO/V. Martin

UN stresses importance of food safety – from farm to plate – on World Health Day

With the food supply chain stretching around the world, the need to strengthen food safety systems within and among countries is becoming more critical.

With the United Nations health agency highlighting food safety on World Health Day, the Secretary-General today called for unified efforts to ensure that production, distribution, and preparation of food is done safely.

“The health, agriculture, trade, and environment sectors need to work together,” said Ban Ki-moon. “We all have a role to play in keeping food safe – from farm to plate.”

Mr. Ban pointed to the more than 200 diseases that can come from contaminated food and to the constantly evolving threat from new production, distribution and consumption methods, as well as the emergence of resistant bacteria.

“With the food supply chain stretching around the world, the need to strengthen food safety systems within and among countries is becoming more critical,” he said. “That is why, on World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on countries and all actors to improve food safety from farm to plate and everywhere in between.”

To mark the day, the WHO released new data on the harm caused by foodborne illnesses and the global threat posed by unsafe foods.

“Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalised,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.”

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Combating Malnutrition with School Meals

Photo credit: Google

School meal in Madagascar – www.wfp.org

Why Schools Should Be on the Frontline in Combating Malnutrition

To celebrate International School Meals Day in early March, schools from around the world shared their experiences of school meals. It was fun way for school kids to learn what’s on their plates and on what children the other side of the world will be eating.

However given the depressing regularity of nutritional bad news focusing on obesity or malnutrition perhaps policy makers should be just as excited by school meals and the wider school health and nutrition movement which can provide countries with the tools to tackle this problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 42 million infants and young children under 5 are overweight or and this figure is likely to top 70 million by 2025. At the same time, in low and middle income countries, over a fifth of children under 5 are affected by stunting due to poor diets. Often the same children are suffering from the double burden of malnutrition resulting in stunted due to poor diets followed by a higher propensity for obesity later in life.

The need for a coordinated response led the WHO to establish the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

School lunch in Food Bag - http://foodtank.com/assets/images/head/school_lunch_5.jpg
School lunch in Food Bag – http://foodtank.com/assets/images/head/school_lunch_5.jpg

Balanced school meals

State of School Feeding, a World Food Programme publication written with the support of the Partnership for Child Development and the World Bank, found that virtually every country in the world provides school feeding at some level. This amounts to around 368 million children sitting down to a meal each school day.

This represents a prime opportunity to provide children with nutritious food and to educate them about the balanced diets. Home Grown School Feedingseeks to provide school meals sourced from local smallholder providers. Rather than relying on imported heavily processed food this reconnects schools with a local and varied food basket.

Read the full article: Food Tank

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