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“AIDS Orphans” Surpass 13 Million

Posted July. 14, 2004 22:03,   


Rapidly Increasing Number of AIDS Orphans –

According to a joint report released by the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), the UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), and the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), there are over 12.3 million children orphaned due to AIDS in southern part of Sahara in Africa. It is expected that this numbers will surpass 13 million this year. This amounts to 82 percent of the 15 million AIDS orphans worldwide.

Furthermore, the number of AIDS orphans is estimated to rise by 50 percent and reach 18 million by the year 2010. In southern part of Sahara in Africa, over 3.8 million children have become AIDS orphans since 2000.

The report pointed out that there is a considerable hole in the AIDS orphans supporting project because most of the attention was focused on treating and preventing adult AIDS patients. About 28 percent of the orphans in this area lost their parents to AIDS. The standard deviation among countries is also great with Zimbabwe’s AIDS orphans comprising 78 percent of all orphans and Zambia’s AIDS orphans accounting for 60 percent. The rate of Nigeria, which has the greatest population of Africa, is 26 percent, close to the average rate but still amounting to 1.8 million AIDS orphans.

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in the International AIDS Conference, “The cruelest legacy of the prevalence of AIDS is children orphaned due to it,” and warned, “With infection rates rising in populated countries such as China, India, and Indonesia, more children will become orphans.”

As of late 2003, only 17 countries in the world have an AIDS orphan policy. AIDS activists emphasize that the chances of becoming infected with AIDS can be lowered with AIDS prevention education, and appeal that an annual $10 billion fund is necessary.

Medical System on Verge of Collapse—

The New York Times reported on July 13 of an exodus of African medical workers who are leaving behind poor working conditions, low wages, and prevalent AIDS situations and moving abroad to countries such as Britain and the U.S.

Malawi, located in southeastern Africa, suffers the most from the lack of nurses. At Lilongwe Central Hospital, an 830-bed hospital located in the capital city of Malawi, there should be 532 nurses, but instead only 183 are left. Out of those, only 30 are registered nurses.

Most of the nurses who spoke English moved to Britain. Other former British colonies such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana are also watching their nurses move to Britain. In addition, over 3,100 African nurses settled in the U.S. Some predict that by the year 2020, the number will increase to 800,000.

“My friends are telling me that I`m wasting my time here,” said Hlalapi Kunkeyani, 36, who will soon move to Britain.

According to the New York Times, “It is the poor subsidizing the rich, since African governments paid to educate many of the health care workers who are leaving.” Hence, voices of criticism are growing on the indiscriminate importation of health care workers on the part of developed nations.

The “Association of Doctors working for Human Rights,” which jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, plans to make a declaration concerned with the collapse of the African medical system in the near future. The declaration is concerned with ‘‘The outflow of health care workers in Africa, where thousands are waiting for AIDS medicine, will bring down the already weak medical system.”

Human rights organizations point out that one cannot ignore the right to emigrate for a better life, but they criticize the developed nations and recommend them to develop their own health care force rather than depend on foreign workers.

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com parkhyey@donga.com