Hepatomyoencephalopathy (DTE 1-15 August 2020) (Download PDF)

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Unknown Diseases

Covid-linked Hunger & Labor Productivity


  • Unknown origin of diseases: toxic pods of a weed, Cassia occidentalis (locally called kasondi or pamaad) , is the cause of the illness. Children, especially from poor families, ingested the pods which then affected their liver, brain and muscles. They termed the illness hepatomyoencephalopathy by National Institute of Communicable Diseases (now NCDC) globally, over half of the 1,407 human pathogens are zoonotic and in many cases can cause fevers of unknown origin Pandemics have increased inequality.
  • It is not just that the world is witnessing the first recession to be triggered by a pandemic, but covid-19 has set off the “sharpest decline in per capita income” since 1870. Impacts of the collapse of the economy and economic activities have trickled faster to the poor. Oxfam, a non-profit operating across the world, estimates that 121 million more people are on the brink of starvation due to mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies. “As many as 12,000 people could die every day from covid-linked hunger,” declares Oxfam.
  • World Food Program assists 97 million people which is set to increase to 270 million (82 % increase) . Spikes in hunger are evident in West and Central Africa, which has seen a 135 per cent jump in the number of food-insecure people, as well as in Southern Africa where there has been a 90 per cent rise.
  • Covid-19 may cause an increase in each country՚s Gini by 2 per cent. In this case, the number of poor will additionally increase by 35 - 65 per cent. In India alone, some 400 million people would slip into poverty due to the impacts of the pandemic.
  • World Health Organization says a pandemic never really leaves. Instead it continues to hit countries seasonally almost every year, India records seasonal outbreaks of swine flu, which triggered world՚s last pandemic in 2009 - 10 World Bank points out, more than financial crises and wars, the increasing frequency of natural disasters — which includes “biological disasters” like the current pandemic — will impact labour productivity adversely in the immediate future. Between 1960 and 2018, the number of natural disasters was 25 times that of wars, and 12 times that of financial crises like the one in 2008.
  • It is estimated to reduce per capita incomes in 90 per cent of countries in 2020.
  • Outbreaks such as SARS, MERS, Ebola and Zika reduced productivity by 4 per cent even after three years of the episode, says the World Bank.

- Published/Last Modified on: November 9, 2020

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