Confirming results of a
recent study by 3 premier institutions
International Finance Corporation Principal Strategy Officer Sabine Durier warned that India’s booming economic growth will decelerate drastically if it does not check spread of HIV-AIDS. Since India has the largest number of infected people in the world, donor agencies and financial institutions are now sponsoring several awareness programs about HIV-AIDS in the corporate world.
In an interview to the Times of India, Durier said that Indian AIDS population in 2005 is estimated at 5.7 million and this “number is expected to quintuple to between 20 million and 25 million by 2010” and is “much more severe in South India” which is the growth engine of the new Indian economy. By 2020, India’s labor force may reduce “up to a third” as is estimated for “five African countries viz Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.” A recent report on future population trends in India prepared by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner more or less concurs with this view saying that there will be a loss of over 11 million lives over the next 20 years but conceded that “absence of any reliable data on AIDS, making projections for the future was difficult.”
Durier argued that the private sector “can help curbing the problem at the root” by “creating awareness to prevent further infection,” by “spreading the message within the community” especially the risky ones “like truck drivers, migrant workers, and laborers,” and “work with the supply chain” to “spread the message among the employees of the security agency or catering firm” that provides service. She says that this model will reach large populations and can be easily replicated. To facilitate this, Durier recommends “Special clinics with counselors” and “regular lectures about the disease.”
Various financial, aid, and research agencies have indicated that corporate loss due to the epidemic will be high including medial, replacement, and training costs resulting in “lesser productivity.” Contrary to traditional view of contributions to AIDS as a donation, companies need to look at such expenses as “investments. Durier says that “Investment on AIDS awareness program is a cost-saving mechanism” for the corporate world.
IFC has created a program to part-finance HIV/AIDS programs in companies. Durier was appreciative of “many Indian companies have successfully introduced modules in their factories and sites.