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AIDS pandemic threatens development in poorest countries, UN says

AIDS pandemic threatens development in poorest countries, UN says

As the HIV/AIDS pandemic reverses a rise in life expectancy in the world’s poorest countries and reduces the capacity of their people to improve their circumstances, their debt burden must be reduced and their leaders must show the way to organize communities to fight the disease, senior United Nations officials say.

Launching a report entitled “Hoping and Coping: The Capacity Challenge of HIV/AIDS in Least Developed Countries,” the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), Anwarul K. Chowdhury, called for urgent, immediate action against the continuing threat to “human resource, which has been devastated by this pandemic.”

“To challenge the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in Least Developed Countries, three factors must be dealt with: the issue of debt burden, which is as high as 30 per cent and has become unsustainable, leadership in tangibly dealing with the disease, and the active participation of people at the community level,” he said.

The report on the 50 least developed countries (LDCs) was prepared by UN-OHRLLS and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

It focused primarily on the LDCs because the international community have largely marginalized them as they face multi-faceted challenges and constraints, Mr. Chowdhury said.

The problems posed by having 11 million people living with HIV and AIDS in the LDCs have been magnified by because of natural disasters and the economic fragility of these countries, UNDP Associate Administrator Zéphirin Diabré said.

According to the report, the life expectancy in the LDCs, which had been increasing, has now dropped as low as 39 years in some countries.