Ebola and hunger
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa
has aggravated the food situation in the region,
principally in Guinea-Conakry, Liberia and Sierra
Leona, according to the International Food Policy
Research Institute (IFPRI).
The Institute emphasized that the
shortage of food will lead to thousands of more
deaths among those infected with Ebola, and called
on the international community to join forces to
assure adequate nutrition for the ill, as well as
others who have limited access to food.
The three countries most impacted by
the epidemic are among the world’s poorest, and
prices of agricultural products have sky-rocketed,
since farmers and agricultural workers are
abandoning the area.
The World Bank has estimated that,
if the Ebola virus continues to spread, the epidemic
could cost West Africa more than 32 billion dollars,
by the end of 2015.
The IFPRI is insisting that, in
order to prevent future suffering when the epidemic
is controlled, essential social measures and
policies to support agriculture must be implemented.
"Investing in the vulnerable
population’s nutrition and health could reduce the
mortality rate of illnesses such as Ebola, since the
level of nutrition and infection are closely
related," the Institute emphasizes.
The United Nations’ World Food
Programme, and Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO), have stepped up and ensured access to basic
foods for some 1.3 million people and 90,000 rural
families in the three affected countries.
Nevertheless, the IFPRI describes
prospects for the coming harvest season as alarming,
given the limited workforce available, warning that
the food security of thousands of people is at risk.
Other international organizations
have noted the severity of measures implemented to
contain the epidemic, which have made access to food
difficult for a large part of the population, while
the closing of schools in Sierra Leone has kept
children away from nutritional support programs upon
which many depend.
Likewise, restrictions on the
consumption of wild game - the presumed initial
source of Ebola - has eliminated a traditional
source of protein in the local diet.
While it is now necessary to direct
international funds toward controlling and
eradicating Ebola in West Africa, thought must be
given to solving long-standing problems in the most
To date, Ebola has caused 5,000
deaths among the approximately 10,000 infected,
according to recent reports from the World Health
Organization, which has had a serious impact on the
production and distribution of food in the worst-hit
Currently, five new cases of Ebola
are identified every hour, according to the non
governmental organization Save the Children. The
rate at which the virus is spreading has been called
"terrifying" and endangers all sectors of the
economy in these nations. (PL)