Life Expectancies Lower Than 40 Years in African Countries Hardest Hit by HIV/AIDS, UNDP Report Says
The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to contribute to lowered life expectancies around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan African nations, according to a report issued Thursday by the United Nations Development Programme, BBC News reports (BBC News, 7/15). The Human Development Report 2004 measures human development levels in 175 countries, as well as Hong Kong and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Xinhua News, 7/15). The report is based on data from 2002, according to the Baltimore Sun (Baltimore Sun, 7/16). It includes the Human Development Index, which examines life expectancy, infant mortality, education levels and income levels to create a "fuller picture" of a country's development, according to the Los Angeles Times. The report says that life expectancy in seven African countries is below age 40, demonstrating a "dramatic reversal" in the continent's development because of HIV/AIDS, according to the Times (Farley, Los Angeles Times, 7/16). For example, Malawi and Mozambique have life expectancies of 40 years because of high HIV prevalence. In addition, Zambia -- which has a 17% HIV prevalence rate -- has a life expectancy of 32 years, London's Independent reports (Davies, Independent, 7/16). Norway ranks first and the United States ranks eighth on the Human Development Index -- down one place from the 2003 report -- according to the Times. The report shows that as developed countries moved forward, their contributions to other countries decreased, increasing the gap between the "successful and the struggling," the Times reports. The report says, "The picture that emerges is increasingly one of two very different groups of countries: those that have benefited from development and those that have been left behind" (Los Angeles Times, 7/16).
UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said that the AIDS crisis "cripples states at all levels, because the disease attacks people in their most productive years," adding, "It tears apart the foundation of everything, from public administration and health care to family structures." Sakiko Fukada-Parr, lead author of the report, said, "AIDS is currently presenting a very basic problem in human development. But other countries, like Senegal and Brazil, have achieved partial success in fighting the disease, due to easily accessible medicine and all elements of the countries getting involved" (Independent, 7/16). Elizabeth Lwanga, deputy director of the UNDP Africa bureau, said that in the seven African countries -- Central African Republic, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- with life expectancies below 40 years, AIDS "is reversing the hard-won development gains of recent decades" (Los Angeles Times, 7/16). She added, "We need an unprecedented response to this crisis, which is taking a devastating toll on our communities" (Independent, 7/16).