Famine, AIDS, Poverty Make Southern Africans ‘Vulnerable’
As hunger threatens more than 16 million people in Southern Africa, "the extraordinary prevalence of AIDS" in the region is also contributing to "deep-rooted poverty that leaves people vulnerable to the slightest change in circumstance," Cox/Washington Times reports. The effects of the disease "are spreading into virtually every aspect of society," including educational efforts, economies and health care systems. In addition, farming skills are being lost, as parents do not have the opportunity to pass them down to their children, who are left to care for themselves when elders die of AIDS-related illnesses. "The fabric of societies is unraveling at a terrifying rate," Lynn Heinisch, an Africa-based spokesperson for the relief and development organization CARE USA, said. "Much, much more needs to be done to support those who are trying to hold it together," she added (Melvin/Holmes, Cox/Washington Times, 2/6).
South African Doctors, Nurses Leave
Doctors and nurses are "flooding" out of South Africa in search of better-paying jobs overseas, "undermining" the country's fight against HIV/AIDS, according to Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, Reuters/Washington Times reports. Mdladlana said that there are too few health care workers in the country to effectively administer antiretroviral drugs, even if the cost of the drugs decreases. "Government is not opposed to treatment. What government is raising is the question of affordability, and whether the drugs will reach the poorest of the poor, whether they will reach rural areas," he said. The South African government has been criticized by AIDS advocates for its "reluctance" to provide antiretroviral drugs to the 4.5 million HIV-positive people who are estimated to be living in the country. Mdladlana said that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is considering implementing incentives for South African medical workers to "take unpopular posts and also doubling to two years the minimum time a doctor has to work in South Africa after qualification," according to Reuters/Washington Times (Thomson, Reuters/Washington Times, 2/6).