Monday December 10, 2018

World Food Program: Funding squeeze leaves 40% of Afghans food insecure

Lack of funding from the international community, increased instability and conflicts are some of the major causes for food inacessibility

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A malnourished Afghan child, weighing 14 pounds (6.4 kg) at 18 months of age, is treated by a US Army medical team member in Paktya, Afghanistan. Source: Wikimedia commons
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ISLAMABAD, September 2, 2016: The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has warned that 40 percent of Afghanistan’s population, i.e. 11.3 million people, are food insecure, while more than 40 percent Afghani children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition.

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin issued the warning Friday at the conclusion of her four-day maiden visit to the war-ravaged country, the first by a WFP chief in 13 years, to “implore” the donor community to continue their support despite the squeeze on funding because of new global crises.

“This not the time for the international community to turn away from the needs of the people of Afghanistan,” she told reporters in Kabul.

While WFP has already reached almost two million of the most vulnerable Afghans with food and cash assistance, Cousin said, the organization needs $50 million in donor funding to reach another 1.6 million people through the end of this year.

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source: Wikipedia.org
source: Wikipedia.org

“It is the funding challenges and a turning away of the international community, or reduction in support by the international community for the activities here in Afghanistan, which will limit our ability to perform the work that is required,” Cousin said when asked what was the biggest concern for WFP’s Afghan mission.

She noted that the 3.6 million Afghans who the WFP is trying to help do not include thousands of refugee families who have returned or are in the process of returning home from neighboring Pakistan this year.

“Many of them come across with nothing, without the ability to meet the food assistance needs of their families,” said the WFP head, adding that her organization is working with other partners to meet the needs of returnees.

UN food delivery. Source: Wikipedia.org
UN food delivery. Source: Wikipedia.org

Cousin admitted that increased instability and conflict in some Afghan areas has forced WFP to suspend program operations periodically throughout the year.

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“The answer to terrorism and conflict is hope and opportunity provided by sustainable, durable economic opportunity and prosperity where every parent can access the food that they required to feed their children,” she said.

Afghanistan’s northern provinces are traditionally inaccessible for aid deliveries during winter months, and the spread of fighting to those areas in recent months has added to the challenges facing aid groups. (VOA)

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Researchers Develop New Test To Detect E.coli in Food Quickly

The kit has been approved by Health Canada and translated for commercial use

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Poultry, Produce Industry
Over 80% of UTIs caused by E.coli is found in poultry. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel testing kit that can detect Escherichia coli (E.coli) — a deadly pathogen — much more quickly than existing methods.

The kit detects E. coli 0157, commonly found in ground meat, and is considered more likely to cause severe illnesses than other forms of the bacteria.

The test detects a protein unique to the pathogenic E. coli bacteria and shows results in hours rather than days.

“Our goal is to get the testing to occur as close as possible to the source,” Michael Rieder, Professor at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, said in a statement on Friday.

“This technology is not only faster, but it’s less expensive, it’s easy to use, and it can occur right in the processing plant.”

Food samples to be tested are incubated for a few hours. A sample is then placed on a pad. After 15 minutes, the pad displays one red line to show it worked properly – and a second if the sample contains E. coli O157, the CTV reported.

New test to detect E. coli in food quickly. Pixabay

“It’s very much like a pregnancy test,” Rieder was quoted as saying.

Current food testing methods typically rely on culture, which requires samples to be sent away for testing, with results taking up to two weeks to come back. By that time, the food has often been shipped to markets and large recalls have to occur.

The quicker testing ensures that results are received long before contaminated products make it to the market, thus reducing the risk to the public and the need for large-scale food recalls.

“We are looking at this specific biomarker because it is unique to this pathogenic bacteria.The presence of bacteria itself isn’t bad, but we want to be able to identify specific bacteria that will cause people to get sick,” Rieder said.

Also Read- Taapsee Pannu Feels Disturbed By How Some Communities Are Targeted

“The goal is a safer food chain for everyone so that public safety can be assured.”

The kit has been approved by Health Canada and translated for commercial use. (IANS)