This region is undoubtedly the worst hit by HIV and AIDS in the world. A little over two-thirds of all infections on the globe are found within Sub-Saharan Africa, totalling 25. 3 million sufferers. An estimated 3. 4 million people became infected in 2001, and a further 2. 4 million died from AIDS related illnesses, equating to one death every minute. Illustrating the devastating effect of AIDS here, 200,000 people died from war or conflict in 1998. In the same year, AIDS accounted for over 2 million deaths5.
There is also evidence that an intact foreskin increases the risk of contracting the disease 6. The effects of the disease can be broken down into a number of categories: – Household – a number of surveys have concluded that having a family member with AIDS dramatically decreases a household’s income, which then leads to lower public spending and savings. For example, in urban areas of the Ivory Coast, spending on school education halved, food consumption dropped by 41 percent per capita, and expenditure on health care rose by more than 4 times.
Fig. 3 – successful prevention programmes have been introduced in many African states Education – this field is an essential building block in the development of a country. Once the disease is widespread, HIV-related illness begins to eat into the supply of teachers and thus leading to the increase of class sizes, reducing the quality of education 7. Secondly, it takes up a large proportion of a family’s budget, reducing the capital available for school fees and therefore increasing the pressure upon the child to drop out of school.
Also, it is causing huge numbers of orphans (approximately 13. 2 million), which, without the support and guidance of parents, affect their progress in school. Health care provision – with HIV prevalence rates ever rising, the health services in Africa are under severe pressure, having to cope with the 3. 4 million new infections just of 2001. The gap between public spending on health and the actual amount needed to cope with the epidemic is rapidly growing; however great the amount being supplied is 8.
The epidemic has become so widespread, that in recent years, patients receiving treatment for HIV have occupied 39% of the beds in Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, and seven out of every ten in the Prince Regent Hospital in Bujumbura, Burundi. This is leading to people suffering from other conditions not being treated (i. e. , tuberculosis), and thus a rise in death rates from non-HIV illnesses. Agriculture – farming is arguably the most important sector in an LEDC, especially in terms of economic development.
Although it may only account for 20% of a country’s GDP, the sector might employ and provide a living for well over 80% of the population. Once AIDS takes it’s effects on a farmer, both he and his family overlook working the crops, productivity drops, and as a result, lose income. They may have to sell farm equipment or household goods to survive, and this added to by the high medical costs 9. Like any other region, there are immense variations within Sub-Saharan Africa.
In one of the worst hit countries, the Ivory Coast, there are 4379 HIV/AIDS cases per million, whereas there are only 33 per million in Nigeria. The World Health Organisation noted in 1996 “the stage is set for a major disaster”. In a report, it observed that the administration of drugs to pregnant women sufferers and their babies reduces the risk of transmission by up to two-thirds10. However, the anti-retroviral drugs are expensive to deliver, and therefore the majority of women won’t receive them.
Combining the population of the 15 most prevalent countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is predicted that by 2005, this figure would be 11. 6 million higher than if AIDS was not a factor. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke about the effect of the disease in a special session of the Security Council in January 2000. He concluded “By overwhelming the continent’s health and social services, by creating millions of orphans, and by decimating health workers and teachers, AIDS is causing social and economic crises which in turn threaten political stability” 11.
In spite of this, incidence rates seem to be stabilizing, dropping from 4 million in 1999 to 3. 8 the following year. This is due to the fact that most of the population is already saturated with HIV, and effective prevention measures are being put into place. A good example of the latter point is Ghana. Within six months, the government was able to increase the condom use by sex workers from 6% to a staggering 71%.