Tag Archives: health

UN: Pandemic, soaring food prices are starving many people in Asia | Instant News

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says more than 350 million people in the Asia-Pacific are starving as the coronavirus pandemic is destroying jobs and pushing food prices higher.

Recent estimates suggest that nearly 688 million people worldwide are malnourished, more than half in Asia. The largest share is in South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, where four in 10 people are malnourished.

A key factor is food affordability, a problem in rich countries like Japan as well as poor places like Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, said the report issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. .

The disruption and loss of jobs due to the pandemic mean that families cannot find enough food in many places. That is evident in the long lines seen at food banks even in the United States.

In India, broken supply chains and transportation problems, especially during the lockdown pandemic, have prevented excess grain stocks from reaching all that is needed. Daily workers and migrants are the most vulnerable, despite the massive public distribution system that entitles 75% of the rural population and half of those living in cities to subsidized food grain.

Since eligibility for such a program is based on a nearly decade-old census, many urban poor and migrants are unable to make use of these resources.

Across Asia, high prices for fruit, vegetables and dairy products make it “almost impossible” for low-income families to have a healthy diet, the report said. FAO data shows food prices rose to their highest level in nearly six years in November.

Many people in this region end up consuming cheap, high-calorie processed foods that contribute to obesity and diabetes, but are deficient in vitamins and minerals.

The data in the report shows that it is more expensive to eat a healthy diet in Thailand, Laos, Bhutan and Indonesia, around $ 5 per day, compared to New Zealand and Australia, less than $ 3 per day.

A moderately nutritious diet tends to cost $ 2 to $ 3 per day in most countries, rich or poor, but is more expensive in Japan and South Korea. In most countries, a nutritious diet costs two to three times the cost of providing sufficient energy.

The long-term costs of deprivation are seen in higher rates of death and disease. Tens of millions of children suffer from wasting or stunting, fail to thrive and are unable to reach their full potential.

The report states that five of the 45 countries requiring food assistance are in South, Southeast or East Asia. They include Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Myanmar.

In the long term, food insecurity was improving before the pandemic hit. The report urges the government to change the food system to ensure all can have nutritious food. It calls for a multidimensional approach to ensure better health care, water and sanitation, education and social protection.


Associated Press reporter Vineeta Deepak contributed.


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Czechs must require minimum local food in stores | World | Instant News

PRAGUE (AP) – The lower house of the Czech Parliament approved Wednesday a requirement that supermarkets have a minimum portion of local food, a move to reduce dependence on imports.

The share of Czech food in stores greater than 400 square meters (4305 square feet) must be at least 55% by 2022 and increase to at least 73% by 2028, according to the law.

It was drafted by the populist opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy Party which pushed it through the house with help from Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ ruling coalition.

The controversial move still needs to be approved by the upper house, the Senate, which is controlled by the opposition, and then by the president. The lower house can rule out a possible Senate or presidential veto by a simple majority.

Those who support the bill argue that the coronavirus pandemic shows that it is important for the country to be self-reliant in food production.

They said the move would also improve local agriculture. This applies to about 120 food products such as pork, beef, milk, honey and various vegetables that are already produced in the Czech Republic.

Eight European Union countries have protested the bill, saying it would discriminate against imported products, which are illegal under EU rules.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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UPDATE 1-Italy is considering legal action to delay delivery of the Pfizer vaccine | Instant News

* Pfizer plans to cut further dosages to Italy

* Italy slows down the shot to ensure a second dose

* Rome must protect Italian citizens – commissioner (Adds comment from)

ROME, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Italy is considering legal action against Pfizer Inc after the US drugmaker announced further cuts in shipments of the coronavirus vaccine, said the country’s special COVID-19 commissioner Domenico Arcuri.

Pfizer has faced criticism across Europe for its surprise move to temporarily suspend vaccine deliveries to countries worried that disruption could mess up their inoculation campaigns.

The company told Italy last week that it was cutting its shipments by 29%. On Tuesday, it said it was not in a position to make up for next week’s 29% shortfall and planned “slight cuts” in deliveries, Arcuri said.

“As a result, we discussed what measures should be taken to protect Italians and their health in all civil and criminal places,” Arcuri said in a statement late Tuesday.

“It has been unanimously decided that this action will be taken starting in the coming days.”

He did not elaborate.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two injections, given about 21 days apart, to maintain the immune system well enough to fight the coronavirus.

Pfizer’s move has had a serious impact on vaccination plans drawn up by local authorities, said the governor of the northern region Emilia Romagna.

“Due to dose reductions, many regions have had to slow down or even suspend new vaccinations to ensure administration of a second dose to those who have received the first,” Stefano Bonaccini told Reuters by email.

A Pfizer spokesperson declined to comment on Wednesday on Italian legal threats and criticism of delivery delays beyond his statement on Friday about supply cuts.

The drugmaker said last week it was temporarily slowing down supplies of a coronavirus vaccine to Europe to make manufacturing changes that would boost production.

Pfizer, which is trying to deliver millions of doses at breakneck speed to curb a pandemic that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide, said the changes would “provide a significant dose increase by the end of February and March”.

According to Italian sources, Rome is now trying to assess whether Pfizer is acting under force, or circumstances beyond its control.

Otherwise, the drug group could be accused of violating the contracts it has signed with the European Union on behalf of the member countries, the source said.

One possibility is for Rome to ask the European Union to file a lawsuit with the court in the Belgian capital, Brussels, the source said.

“Local authorities will support the government in any necessary action, but I really hope this does not happen,” said Bonaccini.

Reporting by Emilio Parodi and Stephen Jewkes in Milan, Domenico Lusi in Rome; additional reporting by Josephine Mason in London; Written by Giselda Vagnoni; Edited by Nick Macfie


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Germany agrees tax breaks worth 11 billion euros – Handelsblatt | Instant News

BERLIN, January 20 (Reuters) – Germany’s federal and state governments have approved tax breaks worth around 11 billion euros, the Handelsblatt business daily reported on Wednesday, citing a Ministry of Finance document.

The federal and state governments agreed on Tuesday, when they extended the closure of most shops and schools through February 14, that they needed to stimulate the economy further.

The tax breaks will benefit everyone working from home, Handelsblatt said, adding that between 2022 and 2026, the Ministry of Finance expects 11.7 billion euros in aid as a result of the measures. (Written by Paul Carrel Editing by Riham Alkousaa)


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Germany needs to extend and tighten the COVID-19 lockdown – Scholz | Instant News

BERLIN, January 18 (Reuters) – Germany must extend and tighten its lockdown measures to bring the infection rate down in the pandemic more quickly, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Monday.

“I am considering expanding and appropriate measures to increase the effectiveness of (existing) measures as needed,” said Scholz, adding that stricter rules for working from home should be considered to reduce mobility and social contact.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 state prime ministers are expected to discuss further restrictions on Tuesday to slow the spread of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by Thomas Seythal)


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