- WASHINGTON -- The World Bank
has said that it is imperative that governments in Eastern Europe and Central
Asia make a greater political commitment to avert a potentially catastrophic
epidemic of HIV/Aids.
- The region of the former communist bloc has the fastest
growing number of HIV/Aids victims in the world and the World Bank says
it is putting forward a programme aimed at preventing the situation threatening
the destabilisation of their societies.
- The World Bank launched on Tuesday, in Washington DC,
its support strategy "Averting Aids crises in Eastern Europe and Central
- The report is intended to concentrate the minds of politicians
and others on just how deeply the epidemic could affect economies and social
stability if not confronted adequately.
- There are already a million HIV positive inhabitants
and even optimistic views of the trend put this figure above eight million
by the end of the decade.
- At present this translates to 500 deaths each month in
Russia alone, increasing to 20,000-a-month by the year 2020.
- Denial Syndrome
- The World Bank is concerned that governments remain in
denial about the general social disorder caused by widespread HIV infections
that threaten to characterise future decades.
- The key priority set by the Bank is to raise political
- The Bank report notes as an example that Russia's current
Aids budget is 1% of that spent in Britain, even though it has 20 times
- "Countries are paying more attention to the problem,
but most of the current efforts to curb HIV/Aids in the region are too
small to have an effect on the course of the epidemic," according
to the report's author, Olusoji Adeyi.
- The report says total available funding to tackle the
epidemic in the region is estimated at $300m. It recommends this be increased
to $1.5bn by 2007.
- While other international agencies can help on the ground,
the World Bank sees its role as promoting the exchange of information,
helping to improve data collection and providing estimates and planning
for the social and economic impacts of the growing epidemic.
- © BBC MMIII