AIDS epidemic: disaster

According to a report released on Thursday (June 26, 2008) by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is so severe that it meets the UN’s definition of a disaster.  In other words, it ranks as a “serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of a society to cope using only its own resources” (see this Kaiser Network article).

According to an article in The Nation, a Nairobi-based paper, this is the first time the IFRC’s annual disasters report (published every year since 1993) has focused on a single disease.  According to the BBC’s coverage, the report usually focuses on “specific natural disasters such as earthquakes.”

The three articles I link to above cover this story very well, so I’ll just pull a few excerpts from each.  (I’d encourage you to read the full articles though – they are fairly concise, and each take a different perspective.)

From the BBC (article by Imogen Foulkes):

By any standard, the epidemic is a global disaster: 25 million deaths, 33 million people living with HIV/Aids, 7,000 new infections every day.

The IFRC finds the world’s response wanting.

From the Kaiser Network:

“Reflecting on the lives of most people living in sub-Saharan Africa raises more alarm than hope,” the report said, adding that HIV/AIDS “is directly responsible for restraining and reducing human and resource capacities across societies because HIV infections and AIDS[-related] deaths are common among workers of all qualifications and expertise, and in all industries.” The report noted that along with the “high costs of caring for people living with HIV, those capacity constraints lead to withered health and education systems, declining food security, skilled labor shortages and an increasingly ramshakled infrastructure”  (AFP/Google.com, 6/25).

From The Nation (article by Alphonce Shiundu and Lucas Barasa):

Almost three decades since the Aids virus came to light, the organisation [IFRC] says, little has been achieved in terms of curbing the spread of the disease. They note that stigma associated with the disease is still rampant in sub-Saharan Africa.

In an annual report titled The World Disasters Report: Focus on HIV and Aids, the disease is categorised as a disaster, whose scale and extent could have been prevented, were it not for ignorance, stigma, political inaction, indifference and denial.

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~ by h.e.g. on June 30, 2008.

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