FAO says HIV/AIDS devastates labour force in Africa

Paris- France (PANA) -- A new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that AIDS related diseases had killed seven million peasants in 27 of the most affected African countries since 1985.
FAO predicts that HIV/AIDS could kill an additional 16 million people in the coming two decades and reduce the agricultural labour force by as much as 26 percent in 10 of the ten most affected African countries by 2020.
"Throughout history, few crises have presented such a threat to human health and social and economic progress as the HIV/AIDS epidemic," observes the document to be submitted at the 27th Session of the Committee on World Food Security to be held in Rome from 28 May to 1 June According to UN statistics, 95 percent of the estimated 36 million people living with HIV world-wide live in developing countries.
Out of these, 24 million live in sub-Saharan Africa while India, with more than 4 million people infected, is the country with the largest population living with HIV.
The virus is having a major impact on nutrition, food security, agricultural production and rural societies in many countries, according to the report.
FAO said that HIV/AIDS was negatively affecting the continent's agricultural, economic and social development by killing the most economically productive members.
"HIV/AIDS can have devastating effects on household food security and nutrition," the report points out.
It cites case study in Uganda showing that 65 percent of the AIDS-affected households were obliged to sell property to pay for care.
Frequently, children were forced to discontinue schooling, as the family needed help and could not pay school expenses.
Time dedicated to child-care, hygiene, food processing and preparation was sacrificed.
When the AIDS patient dies, new expenditures were incurred for the funeral and the productive capacity of household was further reduced.
Research done in Tanzania showed that per capita food consumption dropped by 15 percent in the poorest households when an adult died of AIDS.
Food consumption was further affected when mothers died since they were usually responsible for meal preparation.
According to the FAO report, the loss of able-bodied adults affected the entire society's ability to maintain and reproduce itself.
To combat the continued spread of the pandemic and reduce its impact, the UN agency recommends "strong advocacy strategies to raise awareness of governments, policy makers, ministries, opinion leaders and the general public about the impact of HIV/AIDS.
" It also calls for support to ensure that orphans and other AIDS-affected household members get their daily food and other basic needs.
The forthcoming meeting is expected to examine these recommendations and other issues.

10 may 2001 20:37:00

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