Farmer issues warning over food production lines

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a global food crisis with millions facing starvation since both countries, two major wheat exporters, stopped exports. Now, the head of a major aid organisation has warned has the global food crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine will kill millions by leaving the hungriest more vulnerable to infectious diseases like Tuberculosis, potentially triggering a catastrophic new outbreak.

Since the start of the invasion, Russia has imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, cutting off shipments of grain from the world’s fourth-largest exporter of wheat and corn to the rest of the world.

Western countries have accused Russia of trying to hold the world’s food supply hostage to gain leverage in the war.

Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria told AFP that millions will die not only from the starvation caused by this crisis but also from having weaker defences against infectious diseases due to poor nutrition.

In an interview at the G20 health minister summit, Mr Sands said: “I think we’ve probably already begun our next health crisis.

“It’s not a new pathogen but it means people who are poorly nourished will be more vulnerable to the existing diseases.

“I think the combined impact of infectious diseases and the food shortages and the energy crisis… we can be talking about millions of extra deaths because of this.”

The health expert warned a resurgence of Tuberculosis (TB), which ravaged Britian in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and continues to spread in many parts of the world today.

Mr Sands said: “It’s been a disaster for TB.

“In 2020 you saw globally 1.5 million people less getting treated for TB and tragically that means several hundreds of thousands of people will die but also that those people will infect other people.”

Meanwhile in the UK, three people who came into close contact with a student enrolled at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David who died from tuberculosis in October 2021 have tested positive for the disease.

Dr Denise Dewald, internal medicine and paediatric specialist based in Ohio in the US, has warned that TB cases could grow, tweeting: “I love all the reassurances that tuberculosis is difficult to transmit.

“Infection with TB was basically universal in anyone who spent time in public spaces or lived in crowded conditions in the late 1800s and early 1900s.”

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Mr Sands urged world governments to tackle the impacts of the food crisis by providing frontline healthcare to their poorest communities, who are usually the most vulnerable.

He added: “That means focusing on primary healthcare so the healthcare that is delivered in the villages, in the communities.

“Hospitals are important but when you are faced with this kind of challenge, the most important thing is primary healthcare.”

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