Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Peter Sands, warned of the devastating effects a food crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine could have on the world. 

In an interview with AFP, Sands talked about the increased risks of diseases when individuals are malnourished, a side effect that could lead to millions of deaths. 

“I think we’ve probably already begun our next health crisis. It’s not a new pathogen but it means people who are poorly nourished will be more vulnerable to the existing diseases,” Sands told the outlet while at a G20 health minister meeting.

“I think the combined impact of infectious diseases and the food shortages and the energy crisis… we can be talking about millions of extra deaths because of this,” he added.

The concern of a food crisis comes as Russia has set up a blockade at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. This is preventing any grain from leaving the country.

Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket of Europe” for how much grain it produces and exports, with the blockade capable of causing massive food shortages around the world. 

Russia’s invasion has already directly impacted the ability of thousands of Ukrainians civilians to obtain food. 

Tackling the food crisis is imperative to combating tuberculosis, Sands said, with undernutrition the leading risk factor for the disease.

Sands said the illness does not get as much attention because it is a “poor person pandemic.”

“It is the poor person pandemic and because of that, it hasn’t attracted the same amount of investment in research and development,” Sands said. “This is a tragedy because this is a disease we know how to prevent, how to cure, we know how to get rid of.”

Tags Food crisis Russia-Ukraine war tuberculosis

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