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Nobel Peace Prize Shows the Link Between Hunger and Conflict | Best Countries

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the United Nations World Food Program for its efforts to combat hunger, foster conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war. This choice starkly underscores growing concern about increasing global food insecurity and the clear connections between hunger and conflict.

Today, more than 820 million people – about 1 in 9 worldwide – do not have enough to eat. They suffer from food insecurity, or not having consistent access to the right foods to keep their bodies and brains healthy.

Humans need a varied diet that includes a range of critical nutrients. Food insecurity is especially important to young children and unborn babies because improper nutrition can permanently stunt brain development and growth.

Hunger has many causes. It can be a weapon of war; the result of a global pandemic like COVID-19 that disrupts production; or the result of climate change, as extreme weather events and shifting climates increase crop failures around the globe.

Meeting a global need

The World Food Program was created in the early 1960s at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. “We must never forget that there are hundreds of millions of people, particularly in the less developed parts of the world, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, even though a number of countries, my own included, are producing food in surplus,” Eisenhower said in a 1960 speech to the U.N. General Assembly. “This paradox should not be allowed to continue.”

While the U.S. was already providing direct food aid to needy countries, Eisenhower urged other nations to join in creating a system to provide food to member states through the United Nations. The WFP is now one of the world’s largest humanitarian agencies. In 2019 it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries.

The WFP both provides direct assistance and works to strengthen individual countries’ capacity to meet their people’s basic needs. With its own fleet of trucks, ships and planes, the agency carries out emergency response missions and delivers food and assistance directly to victims of war, civil conflict, droughts, floods, crop failures and other natural disasters.

When emergencies subside, WFP experts develop programs for relief and rehabilitation and provide developmental aid. Over 90% of its 17,000 staff members are based in countries where the agency provides assistance.

World map showing countries with highest rates of undernourishment and child wasting, stunting and mortality.
The Global Hunger Index attempts to assess the multidimensional nature of hunger by combining four key indicators of malnutrition into a single index score.
Our World in Data, CC BY

Links between hunger and conflict

The Nobel award recognizes a key connection between hunger and global conflict. As the U.N. Security Council emphasized in a 2018 resolution, humankind can never eliminate hunger without first establishing peace. Conflict causes rampant food insecurity: It disrupts infrastructure and social stability, making it hard for supplies to get to people who need them. Too often, warring parties may deliberately use starvation as a strategy.

Food insecurity also perpetuates conflict, as it drives

Coronavirus disrupting mental health services in most countries: WHO

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted “critical” mental health services in the majority of countries around the world at a time when citizens may need it the most, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.

Access to these services has either been disrupted or halted in 93% of countries worldwide, according to a recent survey by WHO.

The survey indicated that over 60% of countries reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents (72%), older adults (70%) and women who require antenatal or postnatal services (61%).

Although 70% of countries reported adopting telemedicine or teletherapy in replace of in-person services, “there are significant disparities in the uptake of these interventions,” WHO said.


While more than 80% of high-income countries deployed telemedicine and teletherapy, less than 50% of low-income countries did so, the survey shows.

The results underscore “the urgent need for increased funding” in the sector, which was already suffering from a “chronic” lack of funding, WHO said.

“COVID-19 has interrupted essential mental health services around the world just when they’re needed most,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “World leaders must move fast and decisively to invest more in life-saving mental health programmes  ̶  during the pandemic and beyond.”


Prior to the onset of COVID-19, countries were spending less than 2% of their national health budgets on mental health services and, as a result, they were “struggling to meet their populations’ needs.”

Now, it’s even more critical as bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are “triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones.”

During the global health crisis, people may experience increases in alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety, according to WHO.


By itself, the virus can also “lead to neurological and mental complications,” which may include delirium, agitation, and stroke, according to WHO. People who already suffered from pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders — who are also at a higher risk of contracting the virus — face greater risks of developing severe outcomes or even dying.

As the pandemic continues, WHO said that an “even greater demand will be placed on national and international mental health programmes” that have fallen victim to underfunding for years.

The organization is urging countries to monitor changes and disruptions in their services in order to properly address them.


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Poorer Countries to Get 120 Million $5 Coronavirus Tests, WHO Says | World News

By Emma Farge and Kate Kelland

GENEVA/LONDON (Reuters) – Some 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for coronavirus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries at a maximum of $5 each, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The wider availability of quick, reliable and inexpensive testing will help 133 countries to track infections and contain the spread, closing the gap with wealthy ones, it said.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the manufacturers Abbott

and SD Biosensor had agreed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months”.

He told a news conference in Geneva the tests were currently priced at a maximum of $5 each but were expected to become cheaper.

“This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests,” Tedros said.

“This is a vital addition to the testing capacity and especially important in areas of high transmission.”

Catharina Boehme, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a Geneva-based non-profit organisation in the project, said the deal was a “major milestone” as it was urgent to increase testing in poorer countries.

“It is our first line of defence, critical for countries to track, trace and isolate to stop the spread of the virus and to ensure that we are not flying blind,” she said.

“We now have two high-quality tests which are the first in a series that are being developed and assessed by WHO for emergency use listing,” she said.

The antigen tests – which don’t require a laboratory – provide reliable results in just 15 minutes rather than hours or days and will help expand testing, Boehme said, adding: “The tests are as simple to use as pregnancy tests.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – another Geneva-based group – was providing an initial $50 million to the procurement fund and the first orders were expected to be placed this week, she said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, said that more tests were undergoing evaluation and would come online.

They would be particularly useful in remote settings and to investigate clusters quickly and bring them under control and in areas with widespread community transmission.

“This will be really, really helpful for communities and countries to be able to know where is the virus and who is infected with the virus,” she said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge, Michael Shields, Kate Kelland, Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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