14 October 2022 | Geneva: World Food Day this year is being commemorated in a world with increasing global food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and international conflicts. The World Food Programme estimates that globally, up to 828 million people do not have enough food and 50 million face emergency levels of hunger. Undernutrition is one of the most significant drivers of tuberculosis, accounting for an estimated 19% of incident TB in 2020, worldwide. People with undernutrition are three times more likely to develop TB disease and undernutrition is a common consequence of TB. Undernutrition also worsens TB treatment outcomes and increases the risk of dying from TB.
“This deadly synergy between undernutrition and tuberculosis requires strong multisectoral engagement as promoted by WHO’s Multisectoral accountability framework” said Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “This is key to reducing inequalities, ending TB and leaving no one behind”.
Inequality plays a key role in driving TB and global hunger, limiting opportunities and hampering access to health and social services. Conversely hunger and disease contribute to reduced productivity and a further downward spiral within the poverty-disease trap, thereby increasing inequality. Tackling social determinants and addressing TB and undernutrition are integral components of the WHO End TB Strategy. At the 2018 United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB, Member States committed to addressing the economic and social determinants of TB and to assuring integrated care for TB and undernutrition.
WHO has long recommended the nutritional assessment and counselling of people with TB, as well as the co-management of TB and undernutrition. However, uptake and implementation of these recommendations has been far too slow. To help address this gap, WHO has just released a Framework for collaborative action on TB and comorbidities which aims to establish and strengthen collaboration not just between health programmes but also across sectors for delivering people-centred services for TB and comorbidities, including under-nutrition.
As we mark World Food Day that falls on 16 October, we aim to collectively leave no one behind in the pursuit of universal access to adequate nutrition, thereby ending hunger and contributing to ending TB globally.
Source: World Health Organization