HIV/AIDS Greatest Barrier to Development in Poor Nations, UNDP Report Says
HIV/AIDS is the greatest barrier to development for poor nations, according to the Human Development Report 2003 report released yesterday by the United Nations Development Programme, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports (Malarek, Globe and Mail, 7/7). According to the report, of the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed upon by the 191 U.N. nations, progress has been made only in improving access to drinking water. One of the goals aims to stop and begin to reverse the spread of HIV and the incidence of malaria and other major diseases (APA News Service, 7/8). According to the report, the number of HIV-positive people worldwide has more than quadrupled, from 10 million in 1990 to approximately 42 million worldwide in 2001, the most recent year for which data are available (Globe and Mail, 7/7). In addition, HIV/AIDS is one of the reasons developing nations have been unable to meet other development goals, according to the report (APA News Service, 7/8). For example, South Africa dropped 28 places on the Human Development Index, which is calculated based on life expectancy, education and income in a country, between 1990 and 2001. According to John Ohiorhenuan, the UNDP resident representative in South Africa, "South Africa has slipped mainly because of lower life expectancy due to AIDS, and the drop in (primary education) enrollment rates, again due to HIV/AIDS" (Degli Innocenti/Reed, Financial Times, 7/9). The report says, "HIV/AIDS destroys more than lives. By killing and incapacitating adults in the prime of their lives, it can throw development off course." In addition, the report says that China, India and Russia are at risk of seeing a dramatic increase in HIV prevalence by 2025 (Globe and Mail, 7/7).
Development Goals Not Likely To Be Met in 59 Countries
According to the report, 54 countries are poorer now than they were in 1990, 21 countries have worse hunger problems than they did in 1990 and 34 countries have experienced declines in life expectancy since 1990, primarily because of HIV/AIDS (Koppel, Associated Press, 7/8). Thirty of the 34 "low human development" countries ranked lowest on the HDI are in sub-Saharan Africa, due in large part to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region. For the second year in a row, Norway ranked number one on the index and Sierra Leone ranked last (Xinhua News Agency, 7/8). The report says that 59 "priority" countries -- including 24 countries with high HIV prevalence -- will fail to meet the Millenium Development Goals by 2015 unless "urgent action" is taken (UNDP release, 7/8).