HomeIdeaHunger from Covid-19, infantile massacre. The Lancet study

Hunger from Covid-19, infantile massacre. The Lancet study

Where the collective consciousness does not arrive, scientific analysis intervenes. To demonstrate - in a study signed by the secretaries general of UNICEF, FAO, WFP and WHO published on The Lancet - how the food emergency affects more than 54 million children under 5 years of age today. 7 million more than last year. Hunger from Covid-19 alone kills more than 10 thousand children every month, of which 52% in sub-Saharan Africa. And the survivors suffer irreparable damage to the development of the body and mind.

'The inability of the global community to act now will have devastating long-term consequences for children, human capital and national economies. ' (1)

The prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under five - in 118 low- and middle-income countries, 80% of which in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa - is estimated to increase significantly (+ 14,3%, 2020 to 2019). A completely predictable massacre, after theappeal for humanitarian action launched by UNICEF at the end of 2019 and repeated warnings from FAO, since the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hunger from Covid-19

'It's been seven months since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported and it is increasingly clear that the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more harm to children than the disease itself. Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased.

Essential nutritional services and supply chains have been interrupted. Food prices have skyrocketed. As a result, the quality of the children's diets has decreased and malnutrition rates will increase. ' (Henrietta Fore, UNICEF, general manager). (2)

Covid hunger induced by the global economic recession led, as seen, to a surge in prices that has made food inaccessible to growing strata of the populations. (3)

Il lockdown has drastically reduced access to school meals of more than 370 million children who drew from them the only source of adequate nutrition. The fear of contagions has then caused the collapse of access to health facilities where emergency nutritional assistance is provided. Hospitalizations to treat severe acute malnutrition in children have decreased everywhere, with peaks in Haiti (-73%), Afghanistan and Kenya (-40%).

2,4 billion dollars are needed

'Some strategies COVID-19 response, including physical distancing, school closures, trade restrictions and country lockdowns are hindering food systems by disrupting the production, transportation and sale of nutritious, fresh and affordable food , forcing millions of families to rely on nutrient-poor alternatives. ' (The Lancet).

By the end of 2020 humanitarian agencies (UNICEF, FAO, WFP, WHO) need 2,4 billion dollars to protect maternal and child nutrition, prevent and treat malnutrition, avoid loss of life. These sums are used to carry out four life-saving interventions:

- prevention of malnutrition in children at risk,

- treatment of childhood malnutrition,

- six-monthly vitamin A supplement for children aged 6 months to 5 years (90% coverage),

- promotion campaigns to support breastfeeding for babies up to 23 months.

Other needs to be addressed

UNICEF, FAO, WFP and WHO they also urge the adoption of appropriate measures to address the underlying needs:

- safeguard access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets. By pointing to food markets as essential services,

- investing in maternal and child nutrition and preventing marketing inappropriate breast milk substitutes,

- reactivate and expand services for the early identification and treatment of acute malnutrition.

- Maintain the supply of nutritious and safe school meals to reach the most vulnerable children. Also through home deliveries, take-away rations, cash contributions or voucher when schools are closed.

Sustainable development, Goals up in smoke

17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) were included in the UN 2030 Agenda, by resolution 25.9.15 of its General Assembly. The first two Sustainable Development Goals relate toeradication of extreme poverty and hunger. But no country in the world - outside the People's Republic of China alone now close to reaching these and other SDGs - has made no progress in this regard.

The EFSA and ECDC's One Health report Food Security and Nutrition 2020 (FAO, IFAD, WFP, UNICEF, WHO) - together with that of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston (6.7.20) - highlights just as 3,5 billion human beings are now in conditions of extreme hunger and poverty. Equally tragic are the shortages of clean water and sanitation, which in turn cause more than 1.200 infant deaths every day. (4)

Unseen aid and migration

7 billion US $ in international aid, according to researchers from World Bank (2017), would be needed every year to guarantee the food security (safety of food supplies) promise to all inhabitants of the planet. (5) To these must be added the need to raise 2,4 billion, in the coming months, to curb the infantile massacre.

Aid but they didn't see each other. Nor from the G7, nor from the European Union. Migrations are increasing and the Member States are moving independently to define agreements with the old and new colonies, in the powder keg of the Mediterranean where more weapons than food are exported.

The rhetoric of politicians in Italy has in turn gone from 'Let's help them in their home'(which, however, has never had concrete feedback) to the need to counteract the'economic migrants'. How else?

Dario Dongo and Sabrina Bergamini


(1) Henrietta H Fore, Qu Dongyu, David Beasley, Teodros Ghebreyesus (2020). Child malnutrition and COVID-19: the time to act is now. The Lancet. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31648-2
(2) UNICEF. The COVID-19 pandemic is undermining nutrition around the world. Press release 28.7.20,
(3) GDP per capita in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to decline on average between 6 and 9% in the 12 months following the declaration of the pandemic. See note 1
(4) Report 28.7.20 Special Rapporteur at the UN on the rights to water and health services Léo Heller. V. https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/acqua-e-igiene-governi-e-caporali
(5) Meera S, Kakietek J, Dayton Eberwein J, Walters D. (2017). An investment framework for nutrition: reaching the global targets for stunting, anemia, breastfeeding, and wasting. Directions in development — human development. World Bank, Washington, DC

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