AIDS Epidemic Could Cause Wars in Africa, Botswanan General Says at African Military Conference on HIV
The AIDS epidemic could provoke civil wars and wars between states, Botswanan Major General Bakwena Oitsile said on Monday at Africa's first military conference on HIV/AIDS, Agence France-Presse reports. AIDS-related illnesses are responsible for up to 60% of deaths among military personnel in the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, according to Agence France-Presse. "If the security forces become weaker due to ill health, the countries' constitutions could easily be challenged. The political structures that ensure democratic governance could be threatened," Oitsile said, adding that the pandemic "has gone beyond the purview of the health sector [and] requires mobilization of resources and human capacity in all sectors, including the military." The four-day conference is focusing on improving research into HIV/AIDS in the military, Agence France-Presse reports. U.S. Ambassador to Botswana Joseph Huggins at the conference said that the problem of HIV/AIDS "becomes more ominous in the realization that many militaries in Africa experience readiness problems due to high rates of HIV/AIDS among their personnel." Huggins added, "The leaders of these countries recognize the importance of a viable military force in maintaining peace and stability among their citizenry and with neighboring nations" (Agence France-Presse, 9/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.