Hunger is Rising, COVID-19 Will Make it Worse

The economic crisis and food system disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic will worsen the lack of nutrition in women and children, with the potential to cost the world almost $30 billion in future productivity losses. As many as 3 billion people may be unable to afford a healthy diet due to the pandemic, according to a study published in Nature Food journal. This will exacerbate maternal and child under-nutrition in low- and middle-income countries, causing stunting, wasting, mortality and maternal anemia.

Nearly 690 million people were undernourished in 2019, up by almost 60 million since 2014. Nearly half of all deaths in children under age five are attributable to undernutrition and, regrettably, stunting and wasting still have strong impacts worldwide.

In 2019, 21 per cent of all children under age five (144 million) were stunted and 49.5 million children experienced wasting.The effects of the pandemic will increase child hunger, and an additional 6.7 million children are predicted to be wasted by the end of 2020 due to the pandemic’s impact.

The situation continues to be most alarming in Africa: 19 per cent of its population is under-nourished (more than 250 million people), with the highest prevalence of undernourishment among all global regions. Africa is the only region where the number of stunted children has risen since 2000.

Women and girls represent more than 70 per cent of people facing chronic hunger. They are more likely to reduce their meal intake in times of food scarcity and may be pushed to engage in negative coping mechanisms, such as transactional sex and child, early and forced marriage.

Extreme climatic events drove almost 34 million people into food crisis in 25 countries in 2019, 77 per cent of them in Africa. The number of people pushed into food crisis by economic shocks more than doubled to 24 million in eight countries in 2019 (compared to 10 million people in six countries the previous year).

Food insecurity is set to get much worse unless unsustainable global food systems are addressed. Soils around the world are heading for exhaustion and depletion. An estimated 33 per cent of global soils are already degraded, endangering food production and the provision of vital ecosystem services.

Evidence from food security assessments and analysis shows that COVID-19 has had a compounding effect on pre-existing vulnerabilities and stressors in countries with pre-existing food crises. In Sudan, an estimated 9.6 million people (21 per cent of the population) were experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) in the third quarter of 2020 and needed urgent action. This is the highest figure ever recorded for Sudan.

Food security needs are set to increase dramatically in 2021 as the pandemic and global response measures seriously affect food systems worldwide. Entire food supply chains have been disrupted, and the cost of a basic food basket increased by more than 10 per cent in 20 countries in the second quarter of 2020.

Delays in the farming season due to disruptions in supply chains and restrictions on labour movement are resulting in below-average harvests across many countries and regions.  This is magnified by pre-existing or seasonal threats and vulnerabilities, such as conflict and violence, looming hurricane and monsoon seasons, and locust infestations. Further climatic changes are expected from La Niña.

Forecasters predict a 55 per cent change in climate conditions through the first quarter of 2021, impacting sea temperatures, rainfall patterns and hurricane activity. The ensuing floods and droughts that could result from La Niña will affect farming seasons worldwide, potentially decreasing crop yields and increasing food insecurity levels.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 is still playing out in terms of rising unemployment, shattered livelihoods and increasing hunger. Families are finding it harder to put healthy food on a plate, child malnutrition is threatening millions. The risk of famine is real in places like Burkina Faso, north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

COVID-19 has ushered hunger into the lives of more urban communities while placing the vulnerable, such as IDPs, refugees, migrants, older persons, women and girls, people caught in conflict, and those living at the sharp end of climate change at higher risk of starvation. The pandemic hit at a time when the number of acutely food-insecure people in the world had already risen since 2014, largely due to conflict, climate change and economic shocks.

Acute food-insecurity is projected to increase by more than 80 percent – from 149 million pre-COVID-19, to 270 million by the end of 2020 – in 79 of the countries where WFP works. The number of people in crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) almost tripled in Burkina Faso compared to the 2019 peak of the food insecurity situation, with 11,000 people facing catastrophic hunger (IPC/CH Phase 5) in mid-2020.

For populations in IPC3 and above, urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance is required to prevent a deterioration in the hunger situation. It is alarming that in 2020, insufficient funds left food security partners unable to deliver the assistance required. For example, sustained food ration reductions in Yemen have directly contributed to reduced food consumption since March. Today, Yemen is one of four countries at real risk of famine.

Source: https://gho.unocha.org/

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, food security has been a global concern – in the second quarter of 2020 there were multiple warnings of famine later in the year. According to early predictions, hundreds of thousands of people would likely die and millions more experience hunger without concerted efforts to address issues of food security.

As of October 2020, these efforts were reducing the risk of widespread starvation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Famines were feared as a result of the COVID-19 recession and some of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the 2019–2021 locust infestation, ongoing wars and political turmoil in some nations were also viewed as local causes of hunger.

In September 2020, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, addressed the United Nations Security Council, stating that measures taken by donor countries over the course of the preceding five months, including the provision of $17 trillion in fiscal stimulus and central bank support, the suspension of debt repayments instituted by the IMF and G20 countries for the benefit of poorer countries, and donor support for WFP programmes, had averted impending famine, helping 270 million people at risk of starvation.

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Four Ways to Build Influence at Work, No Matter Your Job Title

people around a table, brainstorming

Being influential has its benefits. People seek out your opinion and listen to you. Your words have power. Those around you believe what you say and give weight to your input. But you don’t have to be a member of the C-suite or a high-ranking employee for this to be true. It’s possible to expand your influence in virtually any role.

“Inside the workplace, there’s formal influence, which comes from your position—the responsibility and authority that you’ve been given,” says leadership consultant Ron Price, founder of Price Associates, and author of Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact. “But there’s also informal influence, which comes from who you are and how you show up.”

While the title you hold may not be imbued with power, there are steps you can take to increase the power you hold in virtually any role, he says. Here are four strategies to try:


Focus On What You Can Control

Influence starts with the areas within your control, says Melissa Drake, founder of Collaborative AF, a consultancy that helps companies unlock potential through collaboration. First off, focus simply on being good at your job.

“If you’re doing your thing well and passionately and you’re getting good results, it’s really hard to argue with that,” she says. Being good at your job is one of the basic elements of influence. It lets people know that you’re confident and capable. Failure to do so undermines influence and makes it more difficult for people to trust you.

At consulting and training company Franklin Covey, Scott Miller, executive vice president and author of Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, recommends focusing on your “circle of influence“—those factors you can control, including “your reputation; your ability to deliver on your promises; your ability to make wise, high-impact decisions; your ability to collaborate.” The more you focus on those essential elements, the more your influence will naturally grow.


Spend Your ‘Influence Currency’ Wisely

Understanding the areas in which you may most likely be influential is important, too. If you have special expertise or act as a facilitator or gatekeeper, the way you share and distribute knowledge or resources can make you influential, says Allan Cohen, global leadership professor at Babson College and co-author of Influence without Authority. The core of your influence may also lie in how well you understand the organization, relationships within the workplace, or other areas that aren’t generally known.

But there’s a fine line between being a fair guardian of that influence and blowing your own horn too much, he says. Cohen says you must figure out how to provide that value in a reasonable way. “It’s a fine art to be able to contribute without disappearing, but without saying, ‘See me? See me? Look. Look. Here I am. Look what I’m doing for you,’” he says.


Make Strong Connections With Others

“Everything comes down to relationships,” Drake says, so building a strong network is essential. She recommends getting to know people on a personal level, too. It’s easier to relate to and understand others when you have an idea of what’s important to them, what their personality traits are, and what’s going on in their lives. “[Allow] people to be seen and heard as individuals and who they are,” says Drake, who gave a TEDx talk on collaboration in which she emphasized how much more powerful successful collaborations can be compared to solo efforts. “Then it makes it easier to come together,” she says.

The ability to collaborate with others also helps build your influence because it strengthens relationships. “There’s the kind of influence that you build through collaboration, where you work with people, where you have shared interests, says Price. “You can combine your influence together to create something bigger than you could have done by yourself.”


Don’t Be a Jerk

Even if you don’t have a big title or wield a great deal of power, there is always a way you can help others, Price says. So find ways to give back to individuals and the organization before you try to use your influence for your own interests. “Who comes to you to get information or something that they need in order to do their daily work?” he says. “The more that you respond to that in a timely way and give them what they’re looking for, the better, stronger influence you’ll build with them.”

By building your expertise and relationships, and using your growing power wisely and fairly, your words and actions will likely have greater impact in the workplace. But, as your influence grows, so must your humility, Miller says. “The more you readily show vulnerability and admit your issues, [the more] people will gravitate around you and you’ll create a culture where people take risks. They’ll make bets. They’ll choose to stay because there’s no paranoia. There’s high trust,” he says.

By: Gwen Moran

Source: Pocket

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Social influence comprises the ways in which individuals change their behavior to meet the demands of a social environment. It takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing. Typically social influence results from a specific action, command, or request, but people also alter their attitudes and behaviors in response to what they perceive others might do or think. In 1958, Harvard psychologist Herbert Kelman identified three broad varieties of social influence.

  1. Compliance is when people appear to agree with others but actually keep their dissenting opinions private.
  2. Identification is when people are influenced by someone who is liked and respected, such as a famous celebrity.
  3. Internalization is when people accept a belief or behavior and agree both publicly and privately.

Morton Deutsch and Harold Gerard described two psychological needs that lead humans to conform to the expectations of others. These include our need to be right (informational social influence) and our need to be liked (normative social influence). Informational influence (or social proof) is an influence to accept information from another as evidence about reality. Informational influence comes into play when people are uncertain, either because stimuli are intrinsically ambiguous or because there is social disagreement.

Normative influence is an influence to conform to the positive expectations of others. In terms of Kelman’s typology, normative influence leads to public compliance, whereas informational influence leads to private acceptance.

Robert Cialdini defines six “weapons of influence” that can contribute to an individual’s propensity to be influenced by a persuader:

  • Reciprocity: People tend to return a favor.
  • Commitment and consistency: People do not like to be self-contradictory. Once they commit to an idea or behavior, they are averse to changing their minds without good reason.
  • Social proof: People will be more open to things that they see others doing. For example, seeing others compost their organic waste after finishing a meal may influence the subject to do so as well.
  • Authority: People will tend to obey authority figures.
  • Liking: People are more easily swayed by people they like.
  • Scarcity: A perceived limitation of resources will generate demand.

See also

Is Data The Answer To Scaling Compassion In Healthcare?

I completed my internal medicine residency at a large urban hospital system in Boston, Massachusetts. One particularly challenging day, I worked hard to arrange in-hospital dialysis for a patient—only to find out later that day that he left the hospital against medical advice and without receiving dialysis.

His reason for leaving was a complicated yet common social situation. Later, during rounds, I voiced my frustration about this patient’s actions. “He made the wrong choice,” I said. My attending (supervising) physician stopped mid-stride and said, “No, Vick. He made the choice that’s right for him.” My attending physician calmly explained, “This isn’t about you and your frustration; have the courage to admit this will never be about you. This is about him and his life.” At the time, most of my 20 years of formal education had been about me: my work as a physician, striving to execute the treatment plan as I saw best for my patients. 

That day I learned a critical lesson that broadened my perspective on patient needs: Medical knowledge, data, lab tests, and more are incredibly informative and meaningful when guided by compassion for the whole person who needs care. That lesson has stayed with me from residency to my current role at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), where I oversee the application of data science, data engineering, and data-driven decision-making to improve the care that our patients receive.

Data-informed and compassion-guided healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic

CCA is a community-based healthcare organization that’s nationally recognized as a leader in providing care for high-cost, high-need individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, including individuals with disabilities. These individuals live with a broad range of complex medical, behavioral, and social needs, which leads to high rates of marginalization and vulnerability. CCA provides services to nearly 40,000 members in Massachusetts for a range of services, including medical care, behavioral-health care, providing durable medical equipment, transportation, and social services and supports.

We want our data to serve as a primary vehicle for decision-making and learning, our experience and intuition to provide context, and our compassion to occupy the driver’s seat. 

At CCA, we are pioneering the necessary convergence of data and compassion in healthcare. We recognize that we must employ more than data-driven decision-making; we must be both data-informed and compassion-guided. We define “data-informed” as the combined use of data, experience, and intuition (each with their strengths and weaknesses) to make the best possible choices for a situation despite its complexities. In other words, we want our data to serve as a primary vehicle for decision-making and learning, our experience and intuition to provide context, and our compassion to occupy the driver’s seat. 

The COVID-19 pandemic provided us with a practical example unlike any other scenario. It put stress on all the usual societal supports in Massachusetts (and elsewhere) and magnified the vulnerability of every individual. About 30% of our members are at high risk of complications or death from COVID-19. From our experience, we knew our members would need enhanced support during the pandemic.

Our data-informed approach ensured we were aware—sooner and more accurately—about each individual’s risks and needs, as well as about disruptions to existing community support. Our approach allowed us to proactively engage with our members to keep them safe (for example, avoid hospitalizations, obtain essential medications and home oxygen) and supported (for example, relieve them of the sense of social isolation or fear). 

Could we build the first platform to scale compassion and value-based healthcare?

We were already building a data platform to support and accelerate CCA’s mission. We had gratefully drawn inspiration from outside of healthcare to design and build a modern solution to meet our needs. Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and accelerated our need for such a platform—as seen in CCA members’ needs. Our organizational response revealed the profound benefit provided when data is combined with compassion in healthcare. With essential data easily available, we were freed up to think more holistically and with compassion about our members’ needs. We saw their needs more clearly and how many of them needed support—for example, about 25% of members did not have another person or organization to help keep them safe and supported. 

On average, a CCA clinician consults data nearly 60 times a minute during the working day.

The urgency of COVID-19 accelerated our understanding of how data can improve interactions and overall care. The use of data broadened our compassion; it did not detract from it. Our experience reinforced that you build up the ability to quickly iterate from being wrong to finally get it right. And the technology and data must allow for that.

We did not need to “pivot” our data platform; the design and technology allowed clinicians and care managers to rapidly receive tailored and instantly updated information to help them prioritize outreach based on quickly shifting factors. This experience reinforced our transformation to a data-informed, compassion-guided healthcare organization; on average a CCA clinician consults data nearly 60 times a minute during the working day. We anticipate that we will continue to lean upon data to serve our members during the potential combination of influenza and COVID-19.

As a servant-leader, caregiver, and builder, I think it’s beautiful to use the best technologies (such as Looker and Google Cloud) to care for the most vulnerable individuals, especially in times of great need. I see the profound benefit of a system that would learn and scale holistic, compassionate, value-based care. Designing data and systems around human needs and compassion (that is, human-centered) lets us make sense of volumes of data so we can care for people who live complex lives.

Without good use of data, we risk only seeing what we already know (or think we know) and reinforcing existing disparities or poor outcomes. Ideally, the technology powering the care we offer should fade into the background, like GPS now does as we’re driving or walking. When essential data is easily available, the data and tools themselves fade into the background; data simply becomes part of the context of doing our jobs and serving people who are vulnerable. 

Keep learning: Does the key to business transformation start with a data-driven culture? Read this whitepaper to learn how to foster a culture that improves agility, intelligence, insights, and trust. And join the author during his session at JOIN@Home.

The author of this article would also like to share these additional resources that inspired and shaped his personal views on this subject: DataKitchen, Sequoia Data Science, Airbnb Engineering and Data Science, and Max Beauchemin on Medium.Valmeek Kudesia

Valmeek Kudesia, MD, VP Clinical Informatics and Advanced Analytics, Commonwealth Care Alliance

Valmeek Kudesia is an experienced physician-leader, engineer, and board-certified clinical informatician. He is a servant-leader who transforms healthcare organizations into learning organizations. Valmeek leads interdisciplinary teams to design and equip healthcare organizations with information platforms, data science tools, and change-processes for patient and organization success (particularly in the high-complexity value-based care setting). He describes himself: “I’m a doctor who talks tech, does data, and does systems. I take care of people and build things that take care of people.”

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GE Healthcare

Driving innovation and leveraging years of experience in the healthcare industry, GE Healthcare’s eHealth Solutions is a leading provider of health information exchange (HIE). Providing clinical information within existing workflows allows providers to have the relevant information they need to provide the best care. Our standards based technology supports secure exchange of patient data in virtually any scenario — between providers, across regions and provinces. #GEHealthcare#GeneralElectric Subscribe to GE Healthcare: https://invent.ge/3ipZ7wI Learn more about GE Healthcare Website: http://www.gehealthcare.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GEHealthcare Twitter: http://twitter.com/gehealthcare LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/gehea… About GE Healthcare: As a leading global medical technology and digital solutions innovator, GE Healthcare enables clinicians to make faster, more informed decisions through intelligent devices, data analytics, applications and services, supported by its Edison intelligence platform. With over 100 years of healthcare industry experience and around 50,000 employees globally, the company operates at the center of an ecosystem working toward precision health, digitizing healthcare, helping drive productivity and improve outcomes for patients, providers, health systems and researchers around the world. We embrace a culture of respect, transparency, integrity and diversity. GE Health Information Exchange (HIE) a secure, standards-based infrastructure | GE Healthcare http://www.youtube.com/gehealthcare

Windows 10 Users Beware New Hacker Attack Confirmed By Google, Microsoft

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know.

Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs.

Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure. Microsoft failed to issue a security patch within that hugely restrictive timeframe, and Google went ahead and published details of the zero-day vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2020-17087.

The bug itself sits within the Windows Kernel Cryptography Driver, known as cng.sys, and could allow an attacker to escalate the privileges they have when accessing a Windows machine. The full technical detail can be found within the Google Project Zero disclosure, but slightly more simply put, it’s a memory buffer-overflow problem that could give an attacker admin-level control of the targeted Windows computer. Recommended For You

While attackers are known to be actively targeting Windows systems right now, that doesn’t mean your system is going down. Firstly, I should point out that, according to a confirmation from Shane Huntley, director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, the attackers spotted exploiting the vulnerability are not targeting any U.S. election-related systems at this point. That’s good news, and there’s more.

While Microsoft has confirmed that the reported attack is real, it also suggests that it is limited in scope being targeted in nature. This is not, at least as of yet, a widespread broad-sweep exploit. Microsoft says that it has no evidence of any indication of widespread exploits.

PROMOTED Civic Nation BrandVoice | Paid Program Election Day On College Campuses: Not A Day Off, A Day On MORE FROM FORBESNew Windows 10 Remote Hacking Threat Confirmed-Homeland Security Says Update NowBy Davey Winder

Then there’s the attack itself which requires two vulnerabilities to be chained together for a successful exploit to happen. One of them has already been patched. That was a browser-based vulnerability, CVE-2020-15999, in Chrome browsers, including Microsoft Edge. As long as your browser is up to date, you are protected. Microsoft Edge was updated on October 22 while Google Chrome was updated on October 20.

There are no known other attack chains for the Windows vulnerability at this point. Which doesn’t mean your machine is 100% safe, as an attacker with access to an already compromised system could still exploit it. However, it does mean there’s no need to hit the panic button, truth be told. Microsoft has also confirmed that the vulnerability cannot be exploited to affect cryptographic functionality.

I reached out to Microsoft, and a spokesperson told me that “Microsoft has a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and update impacted devices to protect customers.”

As for that seven-day disclosure deadline from the Google Project Zero team, the Microsoft spokesperson said that “while we work to meet all researchers’ deadlines for disclosures, including short-term deadlines like in this scenario, developing a security update is a balance between timeliness and quality, and our ultimate goal is to help ensure maximum customer protection with minimal customer disruption.”

Although Microsoft has not commented on the likely timing of a security patch to prevent exploitation of this Windows vulnerability, the Project Zero technical lead, Ben Hawkes, has tweeted that it is expected as part of the Patch Tuesday updates on November 10.

How big a threat is this to your average Windows user? That remains to be seen, but currently I’d classify it as a be aware but don’t panic situation. Hang-fire, ensure your web browsers are bang up to date, and you should be fine. There are far more significant risks to your data than this zero-day attack, in my never humble opinion. Risks such as phishing in all forms, password reuse, lack of two-factor authentication and software that isn’t kept up to date with security patches.

MORE FROM FORBESHacker Uploads Own Fingerprints To Crime Scene In Dumbest Cyber Attack EverBy Davey Winder Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Davey Winder

Davey Winder

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

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Business News

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know. Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs. Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure.

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