The #COVID-19 pandemic is associated with great impacts in the economy due to unemployment and is expected to cause unprecedented increases in poverty. It is especially expected to negatively influence the food, nutrition, and health security of vulnerable group population such as young children, pregnant and lactating women.
The major decline in food security can devastate the livelihoods particularly in fragile contexts and for the most vulnerable people working in the informal agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. Moreover, food insecurity has been shown to negatively affect caregiver mental health and that this, in turn, has a negative impact on early child development outcomes. Household food insecurity in early life is associated with child internalization and externalization of problems, behavioural problems in school, and poor academic performance and intellectual outcomes once those children become school age.
It can also cause family chaos and intimate partner violence as well as suboptimal infant feeding practices related to perceived insufficient milk, risk of chronic undernutrition and infectious diseases in children, maternal anaemia, obesity (especially among adult women), and the development of non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
Whereas, worldwide massive poverty increases, reductions in cross-border trade, internal and external labour migration, and employment have resulted in major food systems disruptions. In the US, thousands of families with young children, become food insecure due to massive unemployment and loss of income.
As recently reported from South Africa and other lower-income countries, populations are now more fearful of dying from hunger than from COVID-19 itself. Tens of millions of families have been pushed into extreme poverty which has severely limited their capacity of purchasing basic foods. Moreover, food systems, including supply chains in these settings, are very unstable and weak compared with higher-income countries, hence more likely to be decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is noteworthy stating that more than 368 million schoolchildren, half of whom are in low and lower-middle-income countries, are currently missing out on school meals, due to COVID-19-related school closures occurring in nearly 200 countries across the world.
Particularly in low- and middle- income countries, exists a high risk of major disruptions in maternal, newborn, and child health services, due to fears related to seeking health care, limited transportation availability, as well as limited health service provision.
Therefore, researchers should focus on the food and nutrition implications of pandemics to answer emerging implementation science questions around the effective delivery of equitable social protection programs and policies in these "unusual" circumstances.
Source: COVID-19 and maternal and child food and nutrition insecurity: