For too long, the South African government has largely ignored the humanitarian and economic problems caused by AIDS. While the African continent in segmented in clearly defined regions, each having its own prescribed strengths and weaknesses, South Africa is widely considered the continent’s leader as the wealthiest country, both in gross domestic capita (GDP) per capita and in total GDP. However, as the country that produces 22 percent of Africa’s GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund, South Africa has historically failed to take a leading role in addressing its AIDS problem. Therefore, it gives me great encouragement to learn about that the South African government is increasing its efforts to combat AIDS.
Celia Dugger’s New York Timesarticle published on April 15, 2010 explains that South Africa’s “undertaking will be expensive and difficult to pull off, but in the past month alone the government has enabled 519 hospitals and clinics to dispense AIDS medicines, more than it had in all the years combined since South Africa began providing antiretroviral drugs to its people in 2004, South African health officials said. To accomplish this, the government has trained the hundreds of nurses now prescribing the drugs — formerly the province of doctors — and will train thousands more so that each of the country’s 4,333 public clinics can dispense AIDS medicines, a step Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called essential to combating ‘this monster amongst us’ in a country short of physicians.”
By hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa will attempt to demonstrate itself as a strong player in today’s increasing global world. More important than the hosting one of world’s largest sporting events, South Africa is finally making significant efforts to fight the deadly disease that has caused South Africa to serve as a country to be “most severely affected by the AIDS epidemic, with the largest number of HIV infections in the world,” according to the South Africa 2010 Country Progress Report.
The Country Progress Report further explains, “Heterosexual sex is recognized as the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the country followed by mother-to-child transmission, and drivers of the epidemic include migration, low perceptions of risk, and multiple concurrent sexual partnerships.” While I do not want to diminish the essential efforts of South Africa’s strategy to treat AIDS, there must be an equally concentrated effort to teach prevention among adults and children alike. In order for emerging countries like South Africa to have a significant role in the global economy, it must maintain an educated and healthy workforce. South Africa has a great incentive to reduce its HIV infection rate, which now occurs at 1,500 per day, according to the health minister, before treatment costs rise further.
Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.