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Diseases are the greatest bane of African countries. 99% of deaths from such illnesses as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis occur in the developing countries (The World Bank, 2015). The issue of HIV/AIDS is one of the most difficult problems in African countries. Out of the 34 million of people diagnosed with HIV in the world, 23.8 million are in Africa, and 69% of all infected live in sub-Saharan part of the continent. In addition, over 90% of HIV-infected children are in Africa (“11 facts,” n.d.). This region is also referred to as AIDS-belt, which includes such countries as Central African Republic, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and others (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001). In these countries, every day about 6,000 people contract the disease and about 4,000 die from it, mostly due to the lack of proper treatment and HIV prevention measures (UNICEF, 2015). Even though there are some tendencies to decrease the number of infected, there is little room for optimistic forecasts. HIV/AIDS is widespread in Africa and the incubation period of the infection is long, meaning that the pandemic will remain one of the most serious problems for the African countries for decades. Although the major concern is the consequences of AIDS related to healthcare in Africa, many people argue that the disease has an immense effect on the socio-economic development, which affects African economies and countries’ standard of living for both HIV-infected and non-infected. The pandemic of AIDS undermines socio-economic development in African countries and decreases average economic growth rates of the underdeveloped countries by reducing labor supply and productivity, reducing export and increasing import.
Effects of AIDS on Development
There are many examples of the effects of AIDS on economies of African countries. For instance, a study of Zambian firms showed that the average medical costs per worker increased in three times for the period from 1993 to 1997 due to AIDS (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001). Employees infected with HIV/AIDS lose productivity, work less hours or skip work. One study estimated that the annual costs for firms associated with decrease of health and productivity due to the infection vary from $17 per employee in a Kenya to $300 in Uganda (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002). As a result of the spread of AIDS, the African companies lose profits and become less competitive.
The prevalence of AIDS negatively affects labor market due to high rates of mortality and morbidity. Workers are also forced to miss work due to other issues related to ADIS, such as taking care of a sick relative or attending funerals. Such tendency has a substantial impact on agricultural and industrial sectors. The research conducted in Tanzanian village estimated that if a family has an AIDS-infected, 29% of household labor supply is spent on things associated with its treatment (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001). Therefore, the labor market in African countries is directly influenced by the AIDS pandemic, which further reduces the capability of the country to deal with the prevalence of the disease due to the lack of available employees for government and healthcare jobs. For instance, in South Africa, 20% of student nurses are infected with AIDS (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002). The incomes of African governments also drop due to the reduction of tax revenues. In addition, the countries’ officials have to allocate more resources for dealing with the rising incidence of HIV. Inadequate government spending is potentially dangerous as it may lead to fiscal crises.
Decrease of productivity in African countries has a negative impact on the amount of export. At the same time, these nations suffer from the increase of cost of imported goods, especially expensive healthcare products. The decrease in profits from export is most damaging in strategic industries, such as mining sector in South Africa. As a result, the balance between export profits and import costs could result in default on debt repayments and African countries would further increase their dependence on economic aid from other countries and international organizations (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002).
Measures for Reducing the Impact of AIDS on Development
A significant measure for limiting the economic outcomes of AIDS in African countries is to design comprehensive strategies with appropriate solutions for the economic problems of specific countries. Since the pandemic of HIV/AIDS is not only the issue of healthcare but also a socio-economic problem, such strategies would have to include the provision of treatment and prevention of AIDS as well as economic measures, such as directed training of skills required in main sectors (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002). However, economic models suggest that the effects of AIDS in sub Africa on its countries’ economies may be mitigated only with the help of international aid. African governments attempt to implement short-term measures, but in order to initiate comprehensive programs, they have to spend the amount of resources that developing African countries do not have as the treatment of AIDS is very expensive. However, fighting AIDS is not limited to only drugs and therapies of the infected. An effective program aimed at the reduction of HIV/AIDS rates has to include media campaigns, education and raising awareness, promotion of the use of contraceptives as well as their provision, measure for safe blood and needle exchanges. The application of such program would cost over $2 billion annually for all developing African countries (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001). This figure is rough, but many African governments do not even come close to it. For instance, Uganda and Tanzania allocate less than 10% of it for the AIDS prevention programs (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001). Therefore, it is essential that sufficient funds are found in order to deal with this problem.
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Even with substantial international aid, most African countries are not able to resolve the ADIS problem without proper legislation that would support such interventions, and, what is more important, make sure that the international funds are properly used. The problem is that the poor population has become poorer and development has slowed down even though the massive resources have been transferred to African countries from international community. The hidden danger of African states’ dependence on foreign aid has made the “more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment” (Moyo, 2009). Therefore, government policies in African countries are in the need of deep reforms. The policy choices aimed at the most severe effects of AIDS on development should address such problems as income inequality, gender discrimination, and government corruption and inefficiency (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2001).
Many African states are in the process of reforming legislation in order to deal with effects that have proven to be most harmful in the context of the AIDS pandemic. Such changes include improving women rights, reorganizing procurement, providing logistical methods to improve population’ accessibility to medical treatment, and altering certification standards so that lower-level health employees would be able to perform functions previously allowed only for higher-level workers. However, many factors hinder these and other changes, such as countries’ disregard of human rights to health, food and other basic needs, gender discriminations as well as discrimination of the HIV-infected. Many experts believe that, in order for the new laws to have an effect, an efficient law enforcement system is required, which, at this point, is almost missing in many African states (Sandkjaer, 2007).
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Many experts believe that one of the greatest hopes for development in Africa is educational sector. Proper education is essential not only for socio-economic development; it also plays a significant role in mitigating the spread of AIDS. Studies have found a strong positive association between adult literacy and adult AIDS spread. Evidence also suggests that in the initial stages of the HIV epidemic its spread is fast among both educated and under-educated social groups. However, once population knows about the presence of the disease, the better educated groups are more responsive and change their behavior. Therefore, the development of educational institutions and inclusion of HIV-related topics in schools should be regarded as an obligatory component of any disease control intervention. However, studies suggest that it would be increasingly challenging for African countries to maintain the required number of educators (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002).
Other researches lay emphasis on the issue of community involvement in preventing the effects of HIV/AIDS on development. The inefficiency of governments’ performance and limitations of legislation can be to some extent compensated by bottom-up approaches, such as a greater community involvement. For instance, many rural and agricultural organizations may engage in the process of speeding information and providing services (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002). In addition, there is a need for increased support of community initiatives. For instance, most of the African countries’ communities are based on agriculture, so intervention may target labor-saving approaches that would be extremely useful in the context of the deficit of labor (Sandkjaer, 2007). Some researchers believe that empowering individuals and local organizations may help reduce the prevalence of the disease, promote effective methods of delivering healthcare and design interventions that suit specific communities. Similarly, the providers of international aid should also develop better relations with local communities instead of government-to-government approach as the administrations of the African countries are not always able to make use of the funds efficiently, and sometimes they even deliberately obstruct such process due to rampant corruption (Moyo, 2009).
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Implementation of the intervention aimed at reducing the effects of AIDS on development in African countries could face a number of social challenges. Due to the macroeconomic effects of such strategies, they may lead to ethically or politically related dilemmas. For instance, in the context of fund deficiency for treatment of population, in order to increase chance of economic stability, governments may target expensive HIV/AIDS medications at the most productive socioeconomic groups in key country’s sectors rather than on individuals’ healthcare needs. Such decision can be explained by the motivation to provide aid primarily to those who contribute to economic output the most. As a result, such approach may allow for greater development, efficient use of funds, and more time for training and replacing labor, thus decreasing the total impact of HIV/AIDS (Dixon, McDonald, & Roberts, 2002).
One of the greatest challenges that African countries are facing is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The majority of the AIDS-positive people live in Africa, and specifically in the sub-Saharan part of the continent, known as AIDS-belt. These countries have thousands of people dying from AIDS and contracting new diseases each day, and evidence suggests that such situation will remain for decades to come. Along with the negative effects of AIDS on healthcare in Africa, the spread of the disease has a great effect on the social and economic development of these states. The leading factor that hinders development is high rates of mortality and morbidity. As millions die in Africa each year, the labor supply of the countries experiences extreme shortages. This problem is especially serious for major sectors, industries, agriculture, education and healthcare. In addition, employees infected by HIV/AIDS lose productivity, work less hours or skip work. As a result of the spread of AIDS, the African companies as well as government lose profits. Reduced productivity and unprofitability leads to the reduction of import and increased cost of export, resulting in the increase of countries’ debts and worsening the crises.
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In order to deal with the consequence of the AIDS pandemic in Africa, there is a need for comprehensive intervention programs that address various spheres of social, economic and political life of each country. The issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa is more serious than merely a healthcare problem. Therefore, it needs to be addressed with more than interventions in the healthcare sector. However, the greatest challenge for providers of such interventions is that the effects of AIDS in sub Africa on its countries’ economies may be mitigated only with the help of international aid as these states do not have the required resources to deal with the pandemic on their own. At the same time, foreign aids cannot have a significant effect until the legislators of the African countries adopt policies that would support such interventions and ensure that the money is properly used. Consequently, there is a need for deep reforms in such sectors as administration, healthcare, and education. Local communities and empowering individuals who can help reduce the prevalence of the disease, promote effective methods of delivering healthcare and design interventions that suit specific communities should be involved as well.