Immediate action on food systems is needed to prevent a global food emergency that could have long-term health effects. Leading researchers across health, nutrition and agriculture have launched a new COVID-19 hub to consolidate existing scientific evidence and support response, recovery and resilience measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CGIAR COVID-19 Hub, coordinated by the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network CGIAR, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), will bring together the latest science on agriculture and health to inform a research-based response to the pandemic.
The Hub will compile relevant work from across the CGIAR System and partners around the world, as well as share future breakthroughs and identify opportunities for new research.
Around two-thirds of CGIAR’s existing research portfolio is already directly relevant to tackling the coronavirus outbreak. The work of most immediate relevance encompasses four research pillars: food systems, One Health (the human-animal-environment health interface), inclusive public programs for food security and nutrition, and policies and investments for crisis response, economic recovery and improved future resilience.
These priority areas aim to address the potential impacts of the pandemic on poverty, hunger and nutrition, as well as by taking the opportunity to “build back better” for a healthier and more sustainable future.
The LSHTM’s contribution to the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub will build on the current work of the Centre for Health Economics In London (CHIL) and the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID).
Anne Mills, Deputy Direct and Provost and Professor of Health Economics and Policy at LSHTM, said: “Supporting national efforts to address the health and economic challenges of COVID-19 will require connecting prediction of disease scenarios under different mitigation strategies with their social and economic outcomes.
“LSHTM is pleased to work with CGIAR in cross-sectoral research to provide evidence for coordinated health, economic and food policy decision-making in low- and middle-income countries.”
Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director of the CGIAR System Organization, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing weaknesses in food systems, societies and economies around the world.
“The current crisis presents an unprecedented opportunity for humanity to ‘build back better’ – particularly as regards more resilient and inclusive agriculture. CGIAR will join its network of more than 3,000 partners to co-lead global debate and action on what ‘building back better’ looks like for food, water and land systems.”