News in Brief 28 September 2021

News in Brief 28 September 2021

This is the news in brief from the United Nations. 

Food waste: A global problem that undermines healthy diets - FAO 

A lack of food, hunger and malnutrition affect every country in the world, the UN said on Tuesday, in an urgent appeal for action to reduce the amount of food that’s wasted. 

The call comes as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that 17 per cent of all food available to consumers in 2019, ended up being thrown away. 

An additional 132 million people face food and nutrition insecurity today because of the COVID-19 pandemic, FAO said, ahead of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, on Wednesday 29 September. 

The problem of food waste is a global one and not limited to wealthy nations alone, said Nancy Aburto, Deputy Director of FAO’s Food and Nutrition Division Economic and Social Development Stream, speaking at a press conference in Geneva: 

“Food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition are impacting every country in the world and no country is unaffected; 811 million people suffer hunger, two billion suffer micronutrient deficiencies – that’s vitamin and mineral deficiencies - and millions of children suffer stunting and wasting, deadly forms of under-nutrition.” 

The FAO official warned that the high cost of “healthy” diets meant that they were now “out of reach” of every region in the world, including Europe. 

She also said that more countries needed to embrace innovation to reduce waste, such as new packaging that can prolong the shelf-life of many foods, while smartphone apps can bring consumers closer to producers, reducing the time between harvest and plate. 

New global meningitis strategy aims to save 200,000 lives a year  

More than 200,000 lives could be saved annually if a new global strategy to defeat meningitis proves successful, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. 

The first-ever roadmap to defeat bacterial meningitis, aims to reduce deaths by 70 per cent and halve the number of cases by 2030. 

It also seeks to reduce disability caused by the disease, which causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, after a bacterial or viral infection. 

The strategy involves the UN health agency and a broad coalition of partners involved in meningitis prevention. 

Launching the campaign in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged far greater access “to existing tools like vaccines” along with new research and innovation to prevent, detect and treat the various causes of the disease, while also improving rehabilitation for those affected.  

Bacterial meningitis is the most serious form of the disease and responsible for fast-spreading epidemics that kill one in 10 of those infected - who are mostly children and young people. 

The illness also leaves one in five with long-lasting disability, such as seizures, hearing and vision loss, neurological damage, and cognitive impairment.  

COVID-19: Indigenous children and those with disabilities hit hard 

To the Human Rights Council, now, where the forum has heard that indigenous children and those with disabilities continue to be hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. 

In an annual discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ilze Brands Kehris, also said that indigenous women and elders have been badly affected. 

The pandemic had “exposed and exacerbated” the inequalities and systemic racism that they faced, Ms. Kehris said, adding that many indigenous people had died amid “unequal access to quality health care”. 

The top human rights official noted that the pandemic had also impacted the resilience of indigenous languages and traditional knowledge.  

This was concerning, she said, given the objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) to “leave no-one behind”. 

Echoing that message, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, José Francisco Cali Tzay, expressed concern that post-pandemic recovery efforts by many States were continuing to have “negative impacts” on indigenous peoples. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News. 

  • Food waste: A global problem that undermines healthy diets - FAO 

  • New global meningitis strategy aims to save 200,000 lives a year  

  • COVID-19: Indigenous children and those with disabilities hit hard 


Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© FAO/Sumy Sadurni