Undernourished people have weaker immune systems, and may be at greater risk of severe illness due to the virus. The current global pandemic of COVID-19, and measures taken to reduce its spread, have disrupted food environments around the world.
Food, water, sanitation and social security are under severe pressure at the moment. An estimated 265 million people will face acute hunger by the end of 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19.
Under- and over-nutrition are both forms of malnutrition that compromise immune function and make people more vulnerable to infection, illness and death. Unfortunately, the availability, affordability and preference for highly processed foods in South Africa results in the prevalence of malnutrition and diet-related NCDs. Choosing a diet based on home-cooked whole foods is a solid foundation for good nutrition and good immunity
The food and hunger crisis that is predicted due to COVID-19 is however not new: prior to this global pandemic, malnutrition was the global disaster that was set to threaten 135 million lives by the end of 2020. COVID-19 only exacerbated this persistent problem and highlighted the shortcomings in the global food system.
A survey by Statistics South Africa showed that approximately 4,3 per cent of respondents indicated that they experienced hunger during the month prior to the start of the national lockdown, which increased to 7,0 per cent by the sixth week of the national lockdown period. The NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 survey shows that 47 per cent of the respondents ran out of money to buy food in April and that between May and June 2020, 21 per cent respondents reported that someone in the household went hungry in the last 7 days and 15 percent of respondents reported that a child went hungry in the last 7 days.