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New UN Report On AIDS
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A new UN report, entitled AIDS in Africa, was compiled over two years using more than 150 experts. It warns that 10% of Africans (an additional 90 million people) could be infected with HIV within the next 2 decades.


Jan 05, Rajesh Makwana ~ STWR

Although an innately rich and magnificent continent, Africa today stands braced for decades of further impoverishment and increasing death tolls if the international community does not act urgently to overhaul their commitment to economic, social and political justice for the people of Africa.

The new UN report, entitled AIDS in Africa, was compiled over two years using more than 150 experts. It warns that 10% of Africans (an additional 90 million people) could be infected with HIV within the next 2 decades.

The global HIV/AIDS epidemic killed more than three million people in 2004, and nearly two-thirds of those with HIV live in Sub-Saharan Africa. During 2004 an estimated 2.3 million people died as a result of AIDS in this region, that's more than 6,300 people a day.

AIDS has a huge impact on every aspect of African life. It has reduced the average life expectancy to 47 years in Sub-Saharan Africa; families and communities steadily dissolve as parents die from the disease, leaving orphans (approximately 95 percent of all AIDS orphans in the world live in sub-Saharan Africa), many of whom are also infected; health care services are strained and school enrollments decrease; workers die in the prime of their working lives reducing family income and agricultural productivity.

The result is that the struggling African economy suffers yet another debilitating blow. This combined with enfeebling debt repayments and unjust trade relationships with the developed nations, leaves Africa destitute and vulnerable, further exacerbating the mass poverty experienced in this continent.

Funding AIDS and Development

An enormous transfer of global resources must be mobilized if this escalating disaster is to be averted and the moral prerogative to facilitate this must rest with the minority "rich" nations.

Global funding for HIV/AIDS has tripled in the past four years from a little over US$2bn to $6bn. However, the UN recommends a committed campaign against HIV/AIDS' and a substantial increase in global funding and investment to $200bn.

The UN report analyses 3 possible scenarios of HIV and Aids in Africa over the next 20 years. It highlights the dramatic impact government policies could have on the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa. The report also warns that sustaining current levels of action and investment could see the disease bring the entire continent to its knees.

It is only through the political will of individual governments and international bodies such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO that these needs will be met and lasting change can occur. However this will not happen until there is a fundamental shift in priorities of many of these nations and institutions.

Resources must be distributed equitably

It must be emphasized that apart from the moral prerogative, there is a mutual economic benefit in ensuring that countries devastated by poverty are resuscitated. The world is increasingly interdependent- politically, economically and socially. Creating economically healthy global partners will boost the suffering world economy through better trade, employment and opportunity for all nations. This in turn would engender peaceful international relations for many generations.

However, sacrifices must be made in order to achieve this, and they must be made by the wealthy nations who need to invest heavily in international development. Such sacrifices will not be made whilst governments pursue short term economic gain in an increasingly competitive international playing field. There is a fundamental resistance by those in positions of global influence to reform their institutions, level the playing field and share the world's resources equitably.

It can be argued that extreme poverty, the escalating AIDS epidemic, and many aspects of global terrorism and insecurity are a result of the lack of political will in the minority world to address the growing gulf between rich and poor.

The obvious figure to highlight is the current annual global military spending, some $1 trillion, with the United States responsible for more than a third of that total. In comparison, the amount calculated by the United Nations to deal with AIDS, or to eradicate extreme global poverty is miniscule. Yet, despite pledges and commitments, few governments are on track to achieve even the 0.7% GDP target recommended over 35 years ago by the United Nations (subsequent to the influential Pearson Report in 1969), despite almost universal commitments to this goal by donor countries.

The immediate benefits of such excessive military spending are, at best, difficult for any government to justify. The need to prevent over 6,000 daily deaths from AIDS alone clearly requires no justification, only action.

The traditional justifications of "national defense" or "preventing terrorism" have been widely rejected by many studies that have concluded that these vast amounts of money can be better spent addressing the causes of terrorism and fostering trust and cooperation between nations.

Commenting on the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2005 report- ˜Redefining Global Security", the U.S. based research group's president Christopher Flavin states that,

"Unless the world takes action to improve economic and environmental conditions around the world, security officials will face an uphill battle in dealing with the many consequences of vulnerable societies-from wars and terrorism to heightened impacts from natural disasters."

A united Global Public

December's devastating tsunami did much to raise global solidarity amongst the public. Their generosity represented global goodwill in action. Such was the power of this heartfelt reaction that it visibly persuaded governments to give more in aid and assistance then they initially seemed prepared to give.

The campaign to inform the public of the inhumane levels of death from AIDS (and global poverty) must be strengthened and information presented about the true causes and cures of these horrors. People will naturally respond if they are informed. As evident with the tsunami disaster, political will can only manifest if sustained pressure is applied to governments by an informed public. The question arises, are the 6,300 deaths each day from AIDS in Africa alone enough to engender the necessary public response?


Rajesh Makwana is the Director of Share The World’s Resources (www.stwr.org), an NGO campaigning for global economic and social justice. He can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Copyright 2005 Share The World's Resources (www.stwr.org)

More information

http://www.unaids.org

http://www.avert.org

http://www.worldwatch.org/

http://www.bond.org.uk/advocacy/aidindex.htm