Toronto Globe and Mail Examines HIV/AIDS’ Effects on Botswana, Once ‘Africa’s Success Story’
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has "robbed" Botswana, which was once described as "Africa's success story," of "many of its dreams," Toronto's Globe and Mail reports. Throughout the 1990s, Botswana consistently was listed at the top of U.N. rankings for education, primary health care, clean water, infant mortality and other indicators. However, 37.5% of the country's adult population is now HIV-positive, and the country has fallen from the top tier of the U.N. Human Development Index, according to the Globe and Mail. In addition, the epidemic has caused the country's life expectancy to drop from 60 to 39, according to international health agencies. "It places a horrendous strain on you, when you are the leader of a country that was admired and now you are the most seriously affected and considered a disaster," President Festus Mogae said, adding, "Since it's there, we're realistic and we've got to accept it." Mogae was the first African leader to be publicly tested for HIV, and in 2001 he announced that the country would provide free antiretroviral drugs to all the HIV-positive Botswanans who need them. The international community has provided Botswana with assistance, "seeing this small, stable country as an excellent testing ground for treatment," the Globe and Mail reports. However, Mogae said that he worries that international support will not continue. "Three years down the road there will be more Botswanas, and people (in the developed world) will grow tired and disillusioned," Mogae said (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 2/12).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.