African Rural Labor Force Jeopardized by AIDS, FAO Report Says
The Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday released a report projecting that by 2020, AIDS deaths could reduce the labor force in the 10 "most affected African countries" by 26%, or 16 million people. The report, prepared for the 27th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, to meet in Rome from May 28 to June 1, states, "Throughout history, few crises have presented such a threat to human health and social and economic progress as does the HIV/AIDS epidemic. ... The virus is having a major impact on nutrition, food security, agricultural production and rural societies in many countries. Since the disease commonly strikes the most economically productive members of society, HIV/AIDS is a problem of critical importance for agricultural, economic and social development." According to the report, seven million agricultural workers in 27 African countries have died from AIDS-related diseases since 1985, and "the loss of able-bodied adults affects the entire society's ability to maintain and reproduce itself." The report offers several recommendations to be reviewed at the Rome meeting, stressing "strong advocacy strategies to raise awareness of governments, policy makers, ministries, opinion leaders and the general public about the impact of HIV/AIDS" and advocating the review of laws and practices of land and resource access to ensure HIV/AIDS-affected households are protected should the family's provider die. It also urges that "donor countries assist in HIV/AIDS prevention and reduce its negative impact on food security by providing advice and resources to countries heavily affected by the virus" (FAO release, 5/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.