IN conjunction with World Health Day (commemorated on April 7 annually), we would like to shed some light on food insecurity. This is in line with this year’s theme, “Building a fairer, healthier world”.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, rapid economic growth had made it possible for more people to enjoy better lifestyles. But with the economy badly affected by the pandemic (as seen in the rise of our unemployment rate, which hit 5.3% last May, the highest level in more than three decades), food insecurity in the country has escalated.
Food insecurity is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources. Adults who are food insecure are more likely to develop a variety of negative health outcomes, including chronic diseases. Their children would be at risk of developmental problems and poorer mental health.
The cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease begins with an individual or family not being able to afford enough nutritious food. Vulnerable to illness, they use more time and money to respond to health conditions, which strains the household budget, leaving little money for essential nutrition and medical care.
Food insecurity can be identified through the following descriptions:
1. Within the past 30 days, we worried whether our food would run out before we had money to buy more; and
2. Within the past 30 days, the food we bought just didn’t last and we didn’t have money to get more.
Let’s help to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone.
DR LYE CHUAN WAY , Doctor of Public Health candidate and ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR HAZREEN ABDUL MAJID , Department of Social and Preventive Medicine Universiti Malaya