In a sobering account of the worldwide impact of AIDS, the U.S. Agency for International Development said Wednesday that 40 million children in developing countries will be without one or both parents by 2010.
With a population explosion of young people, especially in poor countries, “it is a crisis of staggering proportion,” Dr. Nils Daulaire, senior adviser on children and women’s health issues, said at a news conference.
A report will be released on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.
According to the report, “Children on the Brink,” the AIDS epidemic now apparent in sub-Saharan Africa will be repeated in the next decade in Asia and Latin America.
“That is going to affect not only the future of these countries, it is going to affect the entire global network of trade, diplomacy and development,” Daulaire said.
“The world has always had orphans,” he said. Historically, about 2 percent of all children have lost one or both parents.
Daulaire added, “What we are talking about here is something that has never been seen before, which is countries with one-sixth to one-quarter of all children without one or both parents. It means that those countries would be permanently crippled in terms of their own ability to grow, to integrate with the global society, and to make their countries work.”
The 40 million children in 23 countries studied by the U.S. agency, with their poverty and lack of education, he said, will be “wreaking havoc on the social structure of their countries and on the economic future of their entire regions.”
In a series of recommendations, the report urged countries to provide more economic protection for women and children, health services t home and child nutrition programs.
“Government leadership is also needed to encourage all elements of society to collaborate in developing realistic strategies to meet the needs of children and families affected by HIV-AIDS,” the report said.
The study concentrated on countries in regions where AIDS is most prevalent. Not covered were some of the most populous nations, such as India, China and Indonesia, where the disease only recently took hold.