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United Nations Development Programme
HIV/AIDS and Development in South Asia 2003
Regional Human Development Report
UNDP, 2003, 218 pp

"The Regional Human Development Report on 'HIV/AIDS and Human Development in South Asia 2003' is the first Report prepared under the aegis of UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Regional Initiative on Human Development Reports, anchored in the Human Development Resource Centre (HDRC) in New Delhi. This Report builds upon an extensive corpus of research on human development in South Asia, pioneered by the late Dr Mahbub-ul-Haq and strengthened by successive national and sub-national HDRs. The challenge of HIV in South Asia has been examined in several documents prepared by UN organizations, national Governments, research institutions, NGOs, activists working with HIV programmes and positive people’s networks. It is heartening that this complex and difficult issue is being addressed by a large number of people who recognise the pressing importance of fighting this epidemic before it reaches catastrophic proportions. We do not have the luxury of waiting for a crisis to be thrust upon us before we devise solutions for it. The Report argues that just as HIV can reverse the gains of human development in the region, largely through the vector of life expectancy, morbidity and prejudice, the lack of human development can also trump the fight against HIV. This Report is the first attempt to examine the dynamics of HIV and human development through a common lens, and suggests possible arenas for action that may lie outside a strictly epidemiological approach. It is also true that a classic public health response that focuses upon 'disease control', important as that is, may not be adequate given the fact that there is thus far no vaccine against HIV and the health care infrastructure in the region is in need of ever greater reform and rejuvenation. The analysis in the Report indicates that the two-way relationship between illhealth and poverty holds particularly true in South Asia. In this context, human development concerns, particularly those of social security, livelihood and human dignity are required to be mainstreamed into efforts to combat the epidemic. As a corollary, it would be essential to include HIV concerns into policies and programmes for human development. A comprehensive response cannot be a mere catch-word or slogan, it needs to become a living reality on this hinges the success of the struggle against human deprivation and the epidemic in South Asia."

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