Nahla Hwalla participated in ESCWA Lebanon's virtual Dialogue on The Emerging Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Security in the Arab Region (April 23), where she joined with experts from several regional organizations to offer advice about the most important issues and measures to be taken at local and regional levels to enhance and ensure food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hwalla highlighted the catastrophic implications of the pandemic on global economies and international markets, which have intensified the already existing food insecurity. In Lebanon, the situation is worsened by a volatile political and financial crisis that makes availability, access, and consumption of healthy food fiscally challenging.
Maintaining health and enhancing immunity to fight the disease is crucial and mitigating the effects of the disease requires a least cost food basket that meets the nutritional requirements of all the different age-groups of the Lebanese population and considers their limited resources to purchase healthy, nutritious and affordable foods. This requires an approach that emphasizes local agricultural produce over reliance on food imports; it also demands the formulation of policies that support the production, distribution, and access to a healthy, affordable food basket.