This focused workshop on the role of AIDS in Zambian development had two objectives. It aimed (i) to offer an opportunity for Zambian policymakers and development practitioners to take stock of the latest empirical research on the socio-economic consequences of HIV/AIDS and (ii) to provide a platform for lively exchange between policymakers and researchers to foster the effectiveness of AIDS-related policies for Zambia’s overall development.
In her opening address, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Hon. Dr Solomon Musonda, set the stage by stressing that - despite some recent successes such as a drop in HIV prevalence rates from 15.6% in 2001 to 14.3% in 2007 - AIDS continues to pose a great challenge to Zambia’s social and economic development. She emphasized the Zambian government’s resolve to halt the spread of the pandemic, enabling concerted efforts by different societal groups (government, the private sector, civil society) as envisaged in the national HIV and AIDS strategic framework.
The first two presentations of the workshop provided overviews from a research and a (Zambian) policy perspective. Robert Greener (UNAIDS) asked what we know about the developmental impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. He identified a number of channels through which AIDS can be expected to adversely affect socio-economic outcomes. At the macro level, economic growth may for example be compromised by lower aggregate labour productivity or lower savings and investment. Among the negative effects felt at the household level are the losses of income of those who die and higher costs of medical care borne by the families of AIDS-afflicted individuals. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, empirical studies often fail to find clear support for a negative impact of AIDS on per-capita incomes. This arguably reflects at least to some extent that the estimates do not capture the impact of human capital losses which only materialize over long time horizons.
C Kabaghe (FSRP) / M Nkunika (ACF)
Hon. Dr S Musonda
(Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health)