‘Worsening’ Southern African Famine ‘Exacerbated’ by HIV/AIDS Pandemic, U.N. Officials Say
The famine in six southern African nations -- where 12% to 36% of the adult population is estimated to be HIV-positive -- is "worsen[ing]," according to U.N. officials, the Washington Post reports. The United Nations previously estimated that approximately 12.8 million people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique would be at risk of hunger before the next harvest in April 2003. However, the situation has been "exacerbated" by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. James Morris, the U.N. special envoy to the Southern African hunger crisis and head of the U.N. World Food Program, estimates that 14.4 million Southern Africans -- a 12% increase from earlier U.N. estimates -- could face starvation before March 2003 (Goering, Knight Ridder/Bradenton Herald, 9/17). He said that HIV/AIDS has made the hunger crisis "far more deadly" than it would be without the disease (Nessman, Washington Post, 9/17). According to Morris, large proportions of the most productive members of Southern African society -- the farmers, teachers and heads of households -- are dying of AIDS-related causes, resulting in lower family incomes and reduced food production (Knight Ridder/Bradenton Herald, 9/17). The World Food Program has received approximately $170 million in donations and almost $170 million more in "commitments" for emergency food aid to the region; the program needs $507 million. Morris said, "It's going to take the most incredible, generous, coordinated response ... to work out of this situation" (AP/Nando Times, 9/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.