AIDS to have devastating effects in Africa

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- A new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) projects that deaths caused by HIV/AIDS in most affected African countries will reduce the labour force by as much as 26 percent by 2020.
The report estimates that since 1985 some seven million agricultural workers have died of AIDS-related causes in 27 African countries.
An estimated 16 million more deaths are reported likely in the next two decades.
"Throughout history, few crises have presented such a threat to human health and social and economic progress as does the HIV/AIDS epidemic," says the report, prepared for the 27th session of the Committee on World Food Security to be held 28 May-1 June in Rome, Italy.
According to the report, some 36 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus which causes AIDS.
Of these, 95 percent are in developing countries.
Sub-Sahara Africa tops the list of regions hardest hit by the epidemic, with 24 million people infected, while India, with more than four million people living with HIV.
The virus is having a major impact on nutrition, food security, agricultural production and rural societies in many countries, the FAO observes in the report.
Since the disease commonly strikes the most economically productive members of society, HIV/AIDS is a problem of critical importance to agricultural, economic and social development.
"HIV/AIDS can have devastating effects on household food security and nutrition.
A downward spiral of the family's welfare begins when the first adult in a household falls ill," the report explains.
"There is increased spending for health care and decreased productivity.
Food production and income drop dramatically as more adults are affected, and once the savings are gone, the family seeks support from relatives, borrows money or sells its productive assets.
" According to the FAO, agricultural skills may be lost since children would be unable to observe their parents working.
To combat the continued spread of the disease and reduce its impact, the FAO makes a number of recommendations to be reviewed by the Committee on World Food Security.
Among the recommendations, FAO stresses strong advocacy strategies to raise awareness of governments, policy makers, ministries, opinion leaders and the general public about the impact of HIV/AIDS.
It calls for support to ensure that destitute children and other AIDS-affected household members can meet their daily food requirements and other basic needs.
It also advocates the review of laws and practices concerning access to land and resources to ensure that the livelihoods of widows, orphans and other poor HIV/AIDS-affected households are protected.

16 may 2001 10:59:00




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