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HIV/AIDS is affecting development, ECA head says

[Ethiopia] Kingsley Amoako, head of ECA.
KY Amoako, head of the Economic Commission for Africa (IRIN/Anthony Mitchell)

The social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS is hampering Africa's ability to tackle deep-rooted poverty and hunger, Kinglsey Amoako, head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said on Monday. He told experts at a joint African Development Bank/ECA symposium in Addis Ababa that they had to tackle HIV/AIDS if Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) were to be met.

“Africa has lost too much time in coming to grips with the daunting challenges posed by this pandemic,” Amoako said. “Too many lives have been lost.” He told the symposium that Africa needed to achieve higher economic growth rates to combat poverty but that the virus stood in the way.

The MDGs, adopted in 2000, grew out of the agreements and resolutions of world conferences organized by the United Nations in the 1990s. They constitute a body of anti-poverty and development targets which the world's nations aim to achieve by 2015. Amoako said that at least three MDGs were threatened: halving poverty, universal education and the empowerment of women. He said HIV/AIDS was shaving around one percent off growth rates in countries affected by the pandemic. Year on year the impact will be crippling for weak economies and the “poverty reduction goal will be much harder to achieve”, he warned.

Some 6,500 people die each day as a result of AIDS-related illnesses in Africa, where the pandemic affects about 30 million persons. Experts have warned that HIV/AIDS is attacking the most productive age group in society and is gradually stripping countries of their doctors, teachers and professional base.

Amoako said that families hit by the pandemic also grew less food and were more affected by drought. Girls were being withdrawn from school to help at home, he said, adding that the majority of people affected by HIV/AIDS were women and that the burden they were now facing was “becoming unsupportable”.

“Across the board, therefore, we see how HIV/AIDS and its wider social and economic impacts are standing in the way of achieving MDGs,” he concluded.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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