- ROME (Reuters) - AIDS is
ravaging an entire generation of farm workers as it sweeps through rural
Africa, the president of a United Nations development agency said.
- "AIDS is devastating rural life in many parts of
Africa. You have a disappearing generation," Lennard Bage, head of
the Rome-based UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),
told Reuters late on Wednesday.
- The United Nations has said that, in Africa's 25 worst
affected countries, 7 million agricultural workers have died from AIDS
since 1985 and 16 million more could die by 2020.
- "AIDS is taking a tremendous toll. By now most people
with AIDS are living in the rural areas," he added, speaking on the
sidelines of his agency's annual meeting.
- He said AIDS was depriving the countryside of the labour
force to provide food for the hungry, severely hindering the continent's
efforts to achieve a UN goal to halve hunger and poverty by 2015.
- "It means a lack of manpower," he said, adding
the disease had left more than 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
- According to the World Bank, the average annual loss
in gross domestic product per capita due to HIV/AIDS is around one percentage
point in Africa.
- "It is a tremendous obstacle," he said. "This
has taken back standards of living and average life expectancy. It is straight
against the development that we would like to see."
- Africa, with about 10% of the world's population, accounts
for 9 out of every 10 new cases of HIV infection.
- Some 83% of all AIDS-related deaths have occurred in
Africa, the United Nations reports. Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit,
with 28.1 million people infected.
- At the IFAD meeting, Swaziland's Farm Minister Roy Fanourakis
said some hospitals were telling patients they had AIDS-related diseases
such as tuberculosis without informing them it was because they had AIDS.
- So when they went back home they were treated for their
specific illness but carried on risky sexual practices, spreading the AIDS
- But Bage said successful prevention campaigns, such as
that seen in Uganda, offered some hope for the future.
- Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited
without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable
for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance