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AIDS Pandemic Threatens Africa's Future

Commission Expert On Aids In Africa Says Pandemic Threatens Continent's Future

The future stability of Africa will be thrown into doubt if its people now living with HIV/AIDS - a valuable human resource for the continent - are denied treatment, a patron of the United Nations-chaired Commission on HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa said today.

"There is no evidence that any country has begun to address comprehensively the human resource planning challenges raised by the HIV epidemic," former Mozambican Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi told the African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

But he added, "The very future of our societies is tied to keeping these people alive. There is no escaping the fact that the loss of teachers, health workers and civil servants at the rates witnessed today threatens deterioration and eventual collapse. The cost of writing off HIV-infected people is too high to contemplate."

Mr. Mocumbi and former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda are the two patrons of the 13-member Commission, which was established in 2003. It is scheduled to report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan next June on the long-term impact of AIDS in Africa and make recommendations on handling related problems.

"We have little or no information on the ramifications of mortality amongst senior government officials," Mr. Mocumbi told hundreds of delegates at the Forum. "What effects are such losses having on the delivery of public services, economic development and national security? At what point might institutions - or States as a whole - simply cease to function?"

The Commission is chaired by the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), K. Y. Amoako. The 13 commissioners ended their third meeting yesterday.

Its work is aimed at providing governments with practical recommendations on improving and expanding prevention, treatment and care programmes, as well as rethinking their national growth and development strategies, Mr. Mocumbi said.

Extending the lifespan of people infected with HIV remained Africa's greatest challenge, he said.

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