by Medindia Content Team on  October 15, 2007 at 2:51 PM General Health News
Money Wasted on Conflicts Could Have Been Used to Fight Diseases in Africa
Conflicts across Africa between 1990 and 2005 cost the continent's economies about $284 billion -- roughly the amount of international aid given to the continent -- according to a report released Thursday by the British group Oxfam International and the nongovernmental organizations International Action Network on Small Arms and Saferworld, Reuters reports. According to some officials, the $284 billion could have been directed toward fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as promoting education and creating stronger economies on the continent.

For the report, titled "Africa's Missing Billions," the groups calculated the cost -- including lost development aid, medical expenses, increased inflation and higher military expenses -- associated with 23 conflicts in Africa between 1990 and 2005. It found that the conflicts reduced economic activity by an average of 15% annually at a cost of almost $18 billion per year. The report also found African nations that experienced conflict had about 50% more infant deaths, 15% more malnourished people, reduced life expectancy, increased adult illiteracy, 12.4% less food per person and 2.5 times fewer physicians per person than other nations. "This is a massive waste of resources -- roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period," the report said.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the "sums are appalling," adding the "price that Africa is paying" for conflicts "could cover the cost of solving" its HIV/AIDS epidemic or providing "education, water, and prevention and treatment for tuberculosis and malaria". Irungu Houghton, Oxfam's African policy adviser, added that violence is "one of the greatest threats to development in Africa".

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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