AIDS negating improvements in governance in Africa

The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa is threatening to destroy national institutions and is killing members of some professions faster than their replacements can be trained, undercutting the improvements the continent has made in governance, the head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said today. Speaking at a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, ECA Executive-Secretary KY Amoako noted that some African countries were losing teachers at twice the rate at which they produced them. Health systems were collapsing as nurses died. Some national military forces had a 30 per cent to 40 per cent HIV infection rate, he added.

“What does this mean for the long-term survival of African States?” he asked.

A panel on HIV and governance set up by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and chaired by Mr. Amoako was examining the relationship between HIV/AIDS and African gross domestic product (GDP), savings, productivity, agricultural and private business sectors for an in-depth report due to come out in July, he said.

The panel was also trying to include best practices in tackling the HIV problem.

Meanwhile, the major conclusion ECA had drawn from its studies was that governance had markedly improved across the continent, as illustrated by democratic transitions, the role of the media and the public participation of civil society, but unless Africans could build the capacity of the state to sustain many areas of government, there could be a reversal of the governance agenda, he said.

The 17-member Commission for Africa, convened by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was making a big push to strengthen African institutions by improving the role of parliaments and the judiciary, as well as service delivery and public sector management, said Mr. Amoako, one of the Blair commissioners.

The ECA and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) would issue a report in June assessing the coherence of aid flows and how donors and recipients handled that aid, he said.

Mr. Amoako noted that 2005 was a pivotal year for Africa since countries would estimate this year how far they had gone towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

From United Nations

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