U.S. Pledges $98M in Assistance for African Food Crisis Complicated by HIV/AIDS Epidemic
The United States government has pledged $98 million in assistance for the drought and food shortage affecting six African nations, the Christian Science Monitor reports (LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, 7/23). Judith Lewis, the World Food Programme's regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said that the food shortage is a "crisis within a crisis," as it would contribute to already high rates of malnutrition and HIV/AIDS in the region (Fowler, Associated Press, 7/24). The first installment of 40,000 tons of food -- enough to feed 2.4 million people -- is expected to arrive in Durban, South Africa, on Sunday to assist victims there and in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. The southeastern region of Africa is facing its worst drought since 1992, and U.N. officials estimate that $611 million in assistance is needed in the next few weeks to avert "disaster." So far, the United Nations has received $166 million in aid, including the U.S. donation. The drought and subsequent food shortage are being complicated by a high rate of HIV/AIDS in the region, according to Ross Mountain, director of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The population, particularly that of young people, has declined, leaving fewer able-bodied people to assist with relief efforts, he said, adding that caring for people with HIV/AIDS has also placed a burden on the region's population. "It's a tremendous drain on the time and talents of those looking after" sick relatives, he said (Christian Science Monitor, 7/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.