Massive AIDS Losses Trigger
Crisis In Southern Africa

The Post

Lusaka, Zambia - Loss of human capital to HIV/AIDS is triggering a capacity and development crisis in Southern Africa, United Nations Development Programme resident representative Aeneas Chuma has said.
During the commemoration of the United Nations (UN) Day yesterday which falls on October 24, Chuma named combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases as among the millennium development goals critical for Zambia's development.
He noted that the Southern African region which Zambia was part of, had the highest levels of HIV/AIDS infections in the world.
He said HIV/AIDS was crippling capacities of affected nations to meet their development goals including the day to day delivery of services to their populations.
"This became blatantly evident during the crisis triggered by food shortages in six countries in the sub-region in 2002. The problem became acute in the areas of health care, education and agriculture," Chuma said.
He said available data suggested that sector by sector, the loss of human capital to HIV/AIDS was triggering a capacity and development crisis as the epidemic claimed victims in their most productive years.
He said in various circles, already weak public service delivery capacity was further impaired hampering the ability of the country to function and avert the epidemic's devastating impact.
Chuma noted that communities suffered the dual burden of coping with consequences of the epidemic and diminishing access to key social services.
He said women, who were typically caregivers and primary producers of food spent less time on productive economic activities as they devoted their energies on the chronically ill.
Chuma also observed that the number of orphans in Zambia was growing rapidly because of HIV/AIDS.
"Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that HIV/AIDS is threatening not only the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals but the future of the seriously affected nations themselves is at risk," Chuma said.
"These are daunting challenges for Zambia and the sub-region."
Chuma, said although efforts by the Zambian government and co-operating partners had been directed at meeting the HIV/AIDS challenges and that while the combined efforts were showing signs of containing the spread of the epidemic, there was need for continued diligence and greater investment.
He said the UN system through the high level committee on programmes was also additionally working on medium to long-term strategic framework to guide it in responding to the inter-locked challenges of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and governance.
"A complimentary strategy is being developed to address the immediate threat to public service capacities posed by the epidemic," Chuma disclosed.
Chuma also noted that in the current global fight against HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had appointed Zambia's first Republican president Dr. Kenneth Kaunda to serve on the new commission on HIV/AIDS and governance.
Chuma also said the UN system recognised Zambia's principled and active membership to the UN.
He said the UN was proud of Zambia's invaluable contributions including her sacrifice to help broker peace and stability in Southern Africa, providing hospitality and shelter to refugees and her contribution to bringing peace in Sierra Leone.
And Dr. Chituwo who was guest of honour at the event said success in implementing the MDGs required the collaboration and partnership of all stakeholders.
He noted that the MDGs were increasingly becoming the basis of support by bilateral partners.
He said the Zambian government had agreed to monitor implementation of the MDGs within the framework of the poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP).
Dr. Chituwo also noted that HIV/AIDS was a cross-cutting issue and that it impacted on every aspect of Zambia's development.
He said women and children bore the full effect of the disease and that national security was being undermined by the pandemic. "There is tremendous strain on the social system to cope with the large number of orphans. In implementation of the MDGs, government has put resources to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and its impact on communities," Dr. Chituwo said.
He said the government was working in partnership with other government's to tackle the pandemic.
Dr. Chituwo said although the global fund for HIV/AIDS was welcome and provided an impetus in the fights against the disease, there was need to contribute to the fund in order to contain the disease.
He, however, appealed for easy access to the fund so that the government would be able to procure generic HIV/AIDS drugs urgently needed. Commemoration was held under the theme' HIV/AIDS: A major factor in the attainment of the millennium development goals.


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