official says AIDS poses grave challenge for Asian-Pacific countries
"Public health issues like AIDS could pose a serious development challenge to the Asian-Pacific region," UN Undersecretary-General Anwarul Chowdhury told Xinhua during the Eighth Session of the Special Body on Pacific Island Development Countries, a part of the 60th Session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Chowdhury, also the UN High representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said that the Asian-Pacific countries must clearly realize that public health issues like AIDS could be a serious threat to the development of Asian-Pacific countries.
The latest UN statistics show that Asia has become the second largest region of AIDS outbreak after Africa.
In 2003, Asia reported a total of 7.4 million HIV-positive people, with one million newly confirmed cases. About 500,000 people died of AIDS that year. At present, India has the most HIV/AIDS cases in Asia, and other countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and China are also facing rapid increase of HIV/AIDS cases, according to sources with the United Nations.
Chinese Ministry of Public Health said the reported HIV/AIDS cases in China kept increasing over recent years, and the HIV carriers have reached approximately 840,000, in which the full-blown cases hit about 80,000.
World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to UNESCAP Xavier Leus said that more and more rural people come to cities during the urbanization process of countries in the Asian-Pacific region. It not only makes urban management more difficult, but also increases the chances of contracting the HIV virus.
To effectively contain the spread of AIDS, noted Leus, the Asian-Pacific countries need to make proper policies and launch relevant programs to control the disease.
The WHO will also
help the whole region improve their public health systems and offer necessary
technical and information support, said the WHO official.