High food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic among secondary school teachers - Kulob, Tajikistan, 2021

  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Other
  • Nutrition
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The COVID-19 pandemic’s global disruptions resulted in food insecurity and negative consequences beyond direct health impact. We conducted analysis to understand these consequences to protect critical infrastructure workers, including teachers, in future pandemics and COVID-19 waves.

We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study from September through October 2021 in Kulyab, Tajikistan. Teachers, systematically recruited from 54 secondary schools, responded to an online structured questionnaire on food security and negative consequences. We defined food insecurity as (1) being very worried about not having food, (2) having run out of food a lot more than before the pandemic, or (3) having to skip meals often because of insufficient money, and high food insecurity if all applied. Multivariable logistic regressions were conducted to identify variables associated with high food insecurity.

Of 1,575 teachers surveyed, 44% had food insecurity, and 14% had high food insecurity. Negative consequences experienced included, 40% income loss, 7% having to move households, 67% depression/anxiety, and 44% fear of leaving home due to violence. Food insecurity was independently greater among teachers with school age children (15% vs. 9%), that had to quarantine or isolate (18% vs. 9%), and who had COVID-19 (21% vs. 13%). Odds of high food insecurity were higher among teachers with significant income loss (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 3.3, 95% CI: 1.9-5.7), depression/anxiety (AOR 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2-3.0), fear of leaving home due to violence (AOR 2.6, 95% CI: 1.7-4.1), and teleworking vs in-person (AOR 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.3). Odds were lower among teachers who practiced physical distancing (AOR 0.5, 95% CI: 0.3-0.7) and with household members >60 years old (AOR 0.4, 95% CI: 0.1-0.8).

During the COVID-19 pandemic teachers in our study experienced high food insecurity, income loss, and anxiety or depression. Safety nets could be strengthened and focused for health threats affecting populations access to food.

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