Failed Leadership of the Health Sector in Addressing the 2008 World Food Crisis

By Charles Teller

Where have international nutrition and health sector leaders been during this serious 2008 crisis of spiraling food crises that are worsening food and nutrition insecurity among the most vulnerable in the world?

At a lively, standing room only session (#3302) on the 2008 Global Food Crisis Monday at the APHA meetings, the 4 panelists and moderator agreed that it was much more than a crisis. It reflected a longer term structural and systems issue related to food poverty, international trade, climate change, energy and environment. Case studies on India and Ethiopia helped to contextualize the intra-country discrepancies in undernourishment, stunting and wasting.

On my Ethiopian case, I contrasted the apocalyptic press statements in September 2008 of the UN ( FAO, WFP,Humanitarian Affairs) with my Oct. 20th interview with the well-informed Minister of Health of Ethiopia who felt that overall high inflation and energy costs, as well as drought, were more serious shocks  to health and nutrition of his people.  In presenting the long and short-term trends in food access and malnutrition in Ethiopia, I found that this discrepancy in information reflects the lack of representative and reliable data on the evolution of the situation, causes and immediate effects. Continue reading “Failed Leadership of the Health Sector in Addressing the 2008 World Food Crisis”