AIDS Exacerbating African Food Crisis, U.N. Official Says
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is "having a devastating impact" on the food crisis occurring in six southern African nations, a U.N. official said on Thursday, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports. A food shortage has placed 14.4 million in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe at risk of starvation, and, according to James Morris, a U.N. special envoy for the crisis, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is "complicat[ing]" both relief efforts and the ability of those affected by the shortage to deal with the crisis. U.N. officials had estimated in May that 12.8 million were at risk of starvation. "Our overriding impressions were that the crisis is accelerating at a much faster pace than we had anticipated, and that the crisis within the crisis -- AIDS -- is enormous," Morris said, adding that the disease has "remarkably changed the dynamic of life in the six countries" by leaving behind 4.2 million orphans, many of whom are now the heads of their households and must care for siblings and elderly relatives (Arieff, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 9/26). The United Nations has asked for $611 million in assistance to fight the crisis, and Morris was scheduled to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday to "help mobilize" relief efforts (Roy, Associated Press, 9/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.