Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Kamala Sarup: Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS

Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS


By Kamala Sarup

Nepal, already crippled with problems of underdevelopment, poverty, food scarcity, internal conflicts, is the hardest hit by the HIV-AIDS pandemic. If the number of HIV infections continue to rise at the current rate, the Nepal's economy could become crippled, increasing health costs and dampening workplace productivity. If HIV continues to infect younger people of productive age groups, it will have an all-round effect on our development. HIV related illness and death creates new poverty, deepens existing poverty and increases family and national indebtedness.

The economic repercussions of the HIV epidemic at macro level are already being felt in the public and private sectors in Nepal. The cause and consequences of the epidemic are closely associated with other challenges to development including poverty, unemployment, civil unrest, indebtedness and rural-urban movements. There's no question that if the epidemic reaches thausends — which is about two times what it is now — it will have a serious adverse consequence on the economy. In the context oof a stagnating economy, the cost of treatment will "be greater than the economic value of the lives. This will make a significant dent on the growth rate of Net Domestic Product of Nepal within the next few decades. Per Capita income levels are also expected to fall in future.

One of the active social worker Cicilia spoke to The Telegraph at Washington DC on the subject. She said "AIDS can severely retard economic growth by destroying human capital in three ways: AIDS primarily affects people in their productive years. The death of parents affects the transmission of knowledge and ability across generations. Besides, the loss of income due to disability and early death reduces the resources available for educating children and this, in turn, translates into low productivity of future adults. These adults will be less able to invest in the education of their children".

HIV/AIDS is mostly prevalent in the age group of 15-49 years. This age group is very much important from economic productivity point of view. This age group is again the mostsexually active group. If we have a look of the routs of the transmission of HIV, we find that sexual transmission of HIV is most common. It is the cause of transmission in almost 90 per cent of the total infections. This simply construes that there is an urgent need to propagate for the safer sex practices and awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS at home and at work place.

AIDS activist Samjhana Gurung at Pennsylvania said " If the quantity and quality of work done by the productive work force drops; the overall income of the family and the community will greatly devastated. Poverty, for example, limits spending on health and nutrition as well as education. Lack of education will naturally mean lack of awareness about HIV. It also means fewer choices in the job market and lesser bargaining power to negotiate working conditions. Lack of employment opportunities drive women into the sex trade and are factors in increasing migration within the country".

Nepal economy would be severely hit if the number of AIDS victims surged to thausends in the next decade. The epidemic has cost millions of Rupees to individuals and their families. It is true to say that there is a great possibility of multiplier effects of the disease which can penetrate to the general population of Nepal in the near future.

She continued, "we need to upscale our efforts to mobilize adequate human and financial resources to effectively confront the epidemic. The millions required for anti-viral treatment could only be met by external financing if national health priorities were not completely distorted. We must work to mitigate the tremendous impact of the epidemic on the ability of governments to provide basic social services".

She further said "Long periods of separation from their families often lead migrant workers to indulge in high risk sexual behaviour. Especially vulnerable are young people in sex work, young intravenous drug users, young combatants, young civilians caught up in armed conflict, street youth and orphaned youth do not insist on use of condoms. Yet vast number of young people remain unaware or ignorant concerning HIV/AIDS. The information and services that could prevent infection are often not available to, or accessible by, young people, and national strategies reflect scant regard for young people's needs and realities".

Although the Nepal government has launched a nationwide programme to halt the disease, Nepal faces an uphill battle in tackling AIDS. Since most of the infected with HIV/AIDS are younger people. Higher medical expenditures will reduced not only saving but also other current expenditures. The labor force is calculated as the sum of the economically active population for each age group between 15 and 64. Economically active person also includes all persons who contribute to the supply of labor for the production of goods and services.

As costs of health care increase due to AIDS, there will be a negative domestic saving effect barring the case where the increase in medical spending is paid for by reducing other current expenditures. The fall in domestic saving will indicate a fall in capital formation, which in turn will lead to a potentially large adverse effect on per capita income over the long term. In addition to the direct dissaving by households that experience greater income variability in the presence of AIDS.

"I don't want to give a specific number on whether it will cut growth by a percentage point or one and a half percentage points or lead to a public or political crisis or financial crisis. But I know the consequences would be tragic and serious. Nepal needed millions of dollars to deal with the disease which, if unchecked, could "be one of the greatest calamities in history". Dr. Cicilia said.

High infection rate with HIV among the economically active persons in Nepal is a real cause of concern. For example, the proportion of HIV positive cases is found to be highest in the age group between 21-30 years. The resulting effect on the government budget will be exacerbated because more and more of the young will be orphans as the AIDS epidemic worsens, implying higher government costs if not total costs of raising children.

Although HIV cases are rising, the government is yet to provide sufficient funds to combat the syndrome. Apart from the Kathmandu Valley, HIV infection is concentrated in urbanised areas and districts in the mid-west and far west, where there is high labour migration. With few exceptions, a large number of people with HIV-AIDS have no access to services and doctors sometimes refuse to treat them. The challenge is to train medical staff, extend laboratory services, increase care and support system as well as provide voluntary counselling and testing services. Although prevalence of the disease is still low in the general population, it is increasing in several groups.

Social activist Nora said "AIDS treatment - which requires anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs and highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) - costs about $600 a person a year. In a country where the per capita annual income is $220, medical care without government assistance is virtually impossible".

A decisive policy action is the need of the hour at this stage to minimize the negative effects of the AIDS epidemic on the socio-economy of Nepal. This needs a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary response, with collaboration between partners, Governments and non-Government research institutes, international agencies, community based groups and most importantly, the people directly affected. If resolute and concerted action is not taken against the spread of HIV/AIDS, the human death toll and suffering that will be inflicted will be catastrophic.The epidemic can also push up costs of worker replacement, absenteeism, insurance expenses and health care expenditures for the private sector.

If we don't act now, HIV/AIDS will become a social and developmental issue. Our accumulated economic growth will be wiped out.

*************

(Kamala Sarup is editor of http://peacejournalism.com/)


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news