South Sudan in HIV/AIDS epidemic

Southern Sudan is in the midst of an HIV/AIDS epidemic and most of its people are without clean water, sanitation or education services, a United Nations body said in a report released on Sunday.

The report published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said health and education in north Sudan improved slightly in the past 15 years but the situation in the south deteriorated while the two regions were at war.

The statistics in the report are among the first to be published on poverty, health and education in the south of Sudan, where former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) fought the north in a 21-year-long civil war.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in south Sudan is believed to have moved in the generalised phase… where infection has gone beyond high-risk groups into the general population,” the UNDP said in the report.

The report charts the progress of the areas controlled by the northern government and the SPLM from 1990 in meeting a set of globally agreed aims known as the Millennium Development Goals.

About 90 percent of people in the south live on less than $1 a day. Some 75 percent of children have no access to education, the UNDP said, adding that the situation worsened during the war.

Malaria counts for 40 percent of all health facility visits in the south, where despite vast water resources, 70 percent of people do not have access to safe water and 85 percent do not have sanitation facilities, the body added.

A UNDP official told Reuters much of the data had been collected in difficult circumstances and the organisation was trying to collect more extensive information for another upcoming report.

The situation in the northern areas of the country was better but people in rural areas often lived in worse conditions than those in towns and cities, the UNDP said.

The number of undernourished people in the parts of the country led by the northern government fell to 26 percent from 31 percent in 1990, the UNDP said in its report.

Primary education had been expanded in many areas in the north but overall achievement in basic education is still low, UNDP added.

Malaria was a major problem, but deaths from the disease were not increasing. Infant mortality rates had fallen slightly, but government spending on health was very low, at around $2.5 per capita in 2000, the U.N. body said in the report.

The UNDP said monitoring of HIV/AIDS in the northern areas was weak but did not give further details.

A January peace deal officially ended the civil war, which killed around 2 million people, mainly though disease and hunger.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.