World Bank President Zoellick Voices Concern About Mozambique’s HIV/AIDS EpidemicWorld Bank President Robert Zoellick on Monday in Maputo, Mozambique, said he is concerned that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country could increase as new transport routes are developed to meet economic demands, Reuters reports. Zoellick was speaking at a meeting with government officials, donors and not-for-profit groups during the final stop of his four-nation African tour through Ethiopia, Liberia, Mauritania and Mozambique.
"I've grown increasingly concerned about the HIV/AIDS issue" in Mozambique, Zoellick said, adding, "I am concerned that Mozambique could be at a real tipping point either way. With the deeper economic integration and some of the infrastructure projects that would interconnect Mozambique as a country and with its neighbors, I suspect the movement of people will increase the likelihood for HIV/AIDS." Zoellick said that Mozambique's business sector has begun to expand its role in addressing HIV/AIDS. "How do you get the message out? For some it's billboards, for some it's the private sector, for some it's the public sector, so I think this will be a critical issue because the irony is that economic integration here can create some other challenges," he said. Zoellick also said that tuberculosis and malnutrition should be taken into consideration when addressing the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Mozambique's Health Minister Paulo Garrido said the government considers HIV/AIDS an "exceptional situation" and has drafted a plan to fight the disease. He noted that the government is working to incorporate HIV/AIDS testing into routine medical exams. According to Garrido, 90,000 people living with HIV/AIDS were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2007, compared with 5,000 in 2004. However, Garrido added that Mozambique's poor health care infrastructure and medical worker shortage undermine efforts to provide increased treatment access. Government data show that new HIV cases in Mozambique are expected to increase by 135,000 annually unless steps are taken to address the virus. The data also indicate that there were about 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique in 2004 and that 60% and 40% of cases occurred among women and men, respectively (Wroughton, Reuters, 2/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.