HIV/AIDS Hindering Economic, Social Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawian President Mutharika Says
HIV/AIDS is stunting economic growth and social development in sub-Saharan Africa, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said Tuesday at the opening of a two-day parliamentary forum of the Southern African Development Community, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. SADC members need to "move fast in solidarity to find lasting solutions and to try and fight the HIV pandemic," Mutharika said.
According to Mutharika, HIV/AIDS has created "huge social and economic implications" in the region. He called for a multifaceted, comprehensive and holistic approach toward curbing the spread of HIV in the region, adding that national parliaments have a "crucial role" in providing political leadership to fight HIV/AIDS. Mutharika added that the community needs to "agree on a common SADC strategy to collaborate programs and projects dealing with this disease at all levels."
Malawian parliamentary speaker Louis Chimango added that Southern Africa is "at war against a pandemic that knows no boundary." HIV/AIDS has "contributed to the deepening levels of poverty in a region with one of the lowest levels of development indicators," Chimango said, adding, "Fighting HIV/AIDS is also fighting poverty itself."
According to a UNAIDS report published last year, 63% of all adults and children living with HIV/AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of adults and children living with the virus in the region increased from 2.4 million in 2004 to 2.8 million in 2006, the report said. In addition, the report found that there were no signs of HIV/AIDS diminishing in the region and said that a lack of leadership was responsible for the situation (AFP/Yahoo! News, 10/23).