In Africa about 6,500 people die each day due to AIDS related illnesses and AIDS is now the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latest statistics show that over 29 million of the 42 million people in the world who are HIV positive live in Africa. But how does this effect economic development? Development is the act of improving, by expanding, enlarging or refining- is AIDS/HIV the biggest halt to this in LEDC’S (Less economically developed countries) in Africa? For extra information I will be looking at Zimbabwe and Ethiopia for statistics and graphs.
Economic development requires a strong working-age population for agriculture, education, industrial work and other sectors of economic activity. The impact of Aids is unique because it does more than prey on the elderly and the young, instead AIDS is most threatening to the working-age population (18-45) depriving families, communities, and entire nations of their young and most productive people.
In Ethiopia about 90% of AIDS cases are between 20 and 49 years old. The economic impact is severe- in terms of loss of skills (teachers, health workers, professionals, skilled workmen and farmers). Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa is not well developed, only 13 percent of the roads are paved, and less than 3 percent of the population have access to a telephone line or mobile phone.
The loss of life and the drastically reducing working-age population and health of young people and their hope of leading full adult lives shows the concerns for the economic well being of families. This then raises issues of the development of the countries in Africa suffering from this. The wiping out of working age populations means that there are neither people to work in the fields nor the growing industries in these countries.
Women are most vulnerable to the virus due to such circumstances as men having more sexual partners and women being physiologically more susceptible to HIV, meaning it is easier for the virus to pass from men to women than women to men. Studies have found that African girls aged 15-19 are 5 to 6 times more likely to have the virus as boys the same age. Women and girls therefore bare the brunt of the impact of the virus being the caretakers and breadwinners.
Rural women in sub-Saharan Africa are responsible for large portions of house-hold-level subsistence farming and care-taking. Obviously while suffering from HIV/AIDS it is a struggle for the women to support families, earn income, produce food and care for the sick, so usually all her duties would fall upon younger female children of the family. Childcare, nutrition, tending the sick, and education all suffer when AIDS takes an adult in the family. Studies in AIDS affected countries in Africa show that income in AIDS affected households can be less than half that of the average household.
The sale of land (one of the prime assets of poor rural households) is almost normal in such situations. Once deprived of their productive assets, such as land and livestock, households find it almost impossible to return to their old living standards. In Zimbabwe (see graph obtained from UNAIDS) loosing one person in the household can lead to up to 61% reduced output of a crop.
As said earlier, when a women dies in an African family usually all her duties would fall upon younger females in the family, meaning the child would no longer be able to attend school. This has serious implications for the child itself when growing up, and brings up the issue of orphans of AIDS victims. An estimated 1.2 million children have been orphaned in Ethiopia due to AIDS/HIV since the beginning of the outbreak and more than 150,000 children live on the streets.
With too little education and knowledge gathered from their parents, the children of AIDS victims later become adults who are less able to raise their own children and to invest in their education. The effects are felt only over the long run, as the poor education of children today results in low adult productivity in the next generation. If nothing is done the outbreak of the disease could eventually lead to economic collapse in future generations where the population has no skills- which results in no income, no health care etc.
The cost of this disease is the main problem that is effecting economic growth. In Zimbabwe where HIV/AIDS has reduced life expectancy up to 39 years, they have approximately spent 60% of its health care budget on HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of January 2000, a compulsory AIDS tax of 3 percent was imposed on personal and corporate income. The revenues of this tax are intended to help purchase low-cost generic drugs and address the needs of AIDS orphans.
This health crisis has also weakened state institutions such as the civil service, armed forces and other state sectors. Many sub-Saharan African countries have had to cut health care spending while HIV/AIDS is demanding an increasing proportion of national health budgets. However from the graph on the left (obtained from UNAIDS) you can see how the continuation of AIDS will drain the MOH budget, especially in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is in the middle of its worst ever-economic crisis, with inflation (a general rise in prices) over 100%. Here are some consequences of AIDS in Zimbabwe:
* The increased loss of people due to Aids undermines social and economic development gains achieved in the 1980’s. HIV/AIDS is reversing gains in child survival as it is increasing the mortality rate of infants and children
* 600,000 orphans have resulted due to the AIDS related death of their parents. There is an increasing number of households headed by children.
* Hospitals are becoming so overworked people are sent home to die (see graph obtained from UNAIDS)
* 3% of children have lost a teacher to AIDS.
There are now 25 organisations that have joined together to develop Millennium Development Goals. One of these is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. According to them ‘given the economic and social devastation caused by the epidemic, failure to reach this particular goal will greatly undermine, if not make impossible, the attainment of all other millennium goals’. These other goals include ‘Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’, ‘achieve universal primary education’, ‘improve maternal health’ and ‘develop a global partnership for development’
It is now a general agreement that health is key to prosperity. Good health contributes directly to economic growth whilst poor health drives poverty, wealth also leads to improved health, and so it goes on. However improved health does not always come with a high-income growth. There has been research into this, which suggests that healthy populations tend to grow faster, and that the health and wealth aspect also must include the good health of education, the labour market and investment. Carrying on from this the relationship between HIV and economic development operates the same. HIV has a cutting effect on the economy and the economy in turn affects the level of distribution of HIV, for example if the economy put more money into its awareness and education of HIV and also health facilities it would effect the distribution of HIV. However the cost of HIV is cutting into these resources, it’s a vicious cycle.
In conclusion I feel that I have put across all the points that show the effects of HIV/AIDS on the economic growth of Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. It is quite obvious looking at the statistics of some of the most effected countries that AIDS is one of the largest problems that Africa faces when trying to achieve economic development/growth. If AIDS were to be eradicated it would open up 60% of Zimbabwe’s health care budget to other things. It would stop the main cause of the rise in orphans in Ethiopia, meaning more two-parent families. This in turn would increase the amount of income the family could earn, and increase the chances of the children being able to go to school, to learn, and in turn have an income of their own.
The amount of people who would now be saved would be able to work reimbursing the country of its doctors, teachers, field workers etc, meaning larger output of the country. There are many studies that have come to the conclusion of HIV/AIDS being one of the largest halts to economic development, there was a famous study in Tanzania by ‘Cuddington’ in 1991 that showed the economic costs of HIV are ‘colossal’.
They come in the form of reduced growth, declines in savings and investment rates and huge health care costs. I deduced this earlier in the essay and these studies have been very valuable in improving the knowledge and appreciation of the threat posed by the epidemic. HIV/AIDS has killed 3 million people alone in 2003, this alone is horrific, however what people are now beginning to realise is the devastating effects to the economy of the country that could end in collapse if something is not done.