The economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Asia is threatening to further undermine efforts to improve diets and nutrition of its nearly 2 billion people, who already are unable to afford healthy diets prior to the pandemic, according to a new report released by four specialized agencies of the United Nations on Monday.
The report “Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition” found that 1.9 billion people were unable to afford a healthy diet in Asia, even before the Covid-19 outbreak.
The report was published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.
“Due to higher prices for fruits, vegetables and dairy products, it has become nearly impossible for poor people in Asia and the Pacific to achieve healthy diets, the affordability of which is critical to ensure food security and nutrition for all – and for mothers and children in particular,” a joint statement from the UN agencies said.
The report calls for a transformation of food systems in Asia and the Pacific, with an aim to increase the affordability of, and families’ access to, nutritious, safe, and sustainable diets.
“Nutritious and healthy diets need to be accessible to everyone, everywhere. To ensure that happens, the report recommends integrated approaches and policies are needed. These steps are vital to overcome unaffordability issues, and also to ensure healthy maternal and child diets,” the statement said.
The report also calls for action within the private sector, as it has an important role to play in supporting the transformation of the food system and its value chains for achieving healthy diets. SOVEREIGNPH