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HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa

image of HIV/AIDS and the Security Sector in Africa
Throughout history, communicable diseases have weakened the capacity of state institutions to perform core security functions, which compelled many African countries to initiate policies aimed at addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the armed forces, police and prisons. These policies address: 1) the role of peacekeepers in the spread or control of HIV, 2) public health versus human rights dilemma, 3) the gender dimensions of HIV in the armed forces, and 4) the impact of HIV on the police and prisons. While this volume does not address all aspects of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the security sector, the contributors nonetheless highlight the potentials and limits of existing policies in Africa’s security sector.

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The ECOWAS regional framework on HIV/AIDS and the military in West Africa

It is now widely accepted that HIV/AIDS constitutes one of the greatest developmental challenges facing Africa. Like the other African subregions, West Africa is characterized by diversity in terms of language, culture, ethnicity, politics and colonial history. However, within this diversity, the countries in the sub-region share similar health challenges, including high fertility and mortality rates as well as the impact of the mortality and morbidity burdens of HIV/AIDS. These challenges are complicated by poverty and armed conflicts. The impact of armed conflicts on human security and the right to health of the population of West Africa is enormous. Not only do armed conflicts cause deaths and injuries on the battlefield; they also have serious health consequences that follow the displacement of populations, including the breakdown of health and social services and the heightened risk of disease transmission. The widespread violence and instability in conflict situations erode national economic prosperity and diminish the sources of livelihood of the people. Armed conflicts dampen market economies, deflect investments from the social service sector, and decrease employment opportunities by destroying infrastructure and reducing capital.

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