Africa’s A — AIDS
What is the impact of AIDS on the development of Africa?
It is quite possible that, in some African countries, the result might not simply be lower economic growth — but catastrophic collapse.
This is due to the massive destruction of human capital — and the economic marginalization of massive numbers of orphaned children. What makes this all the harder is that in African societies, family is all-important to survival.
Examples such as Uganda and Senegal show that with determination and political will, AIDS infection rates can be brought down — or kept low. Increasingly, private companies are getting into the act.
As a matter of fact, in many African countries, private companies are better equipped than government agencies to deliver social services in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Combating AIDS also is in the self-interest of private companies. After all, they are the ones who have invested in developing the skills of their employees. Losing those precious skills and people has a negative effect on their bottom line.
All of that is why a number of large companies have set up programs for employees and their dependents.
The annual cost to a company of prevention may be $5 per employee. New infections can cost firms up to 10% of annual salaries.
But the story does not simply end there. One challenge companies face is what do you do in a very poor country with few public health resources, where a good AIDS prevention and treatment program run by a company will act as a magnet for the wider community who lack services?
Where do companies draw the boundaries of their health interventions?