Economic development in the African region remains low, and STD risks are an ongoing concern. Out of the 40 million people with HIV, 70% of those infected live in Africa. In 2001, 3 million died from the disease, which made it the fourth deadliest disease on the globe.
Statistics anticipate a steady decline in the African economy for the following years, but the fiscal crisis due to STDs is unlikely to end. These diseases affect the region on a social and demographic level. Poorer households, children, and women are among the worst affected.
STDs are arguably the most influential factor for the continent’s economic growth, particularly for poor and developing regions. Africa’s human capital is on a decline, and without adequate health care, preventive methods, nutrition, and medicine, a lot more people will fall victim to STDs.
The Demographic-Economic Impact of STDs in Africa
This pandemic affects the economic growth rate in Africa by 2% to up to 4% annually. STDs reduce productivity, labor supply, exports, and increase imports.
Economic measures, treatment, and prevention programs specifically tailored towards managing these diseases are the key to limiting their effect on the economic growth in the region.
The Effects of STDs on Labor Productivity
Since STDs have long affected the African region, they’ve massively reduced labor productivity. The annual costs in correlation with the sickness have reduced productivity per employee. The reduction in these costs has lowered profits and competitiveness.
The decline of the agriculture sector in the African region is a typical example of reduced labor productivity from HIV. Those who carry the infection are unable to work. Individuals who’ve carried STDs for a long time have decreased their fertility rates, which has resulted in a massive collapse in newborns. For the most infected areas, this epidemic has left countless orphans behind, unable to get the education or skills they need to participate in the agriculture sector.
With the constant increase in mortality rates, there are fewer skilled workers available. With the reduced labor force, the individuals who can work are predominantly the younger generation who lack the skills or knowledge to work in a specific sector, which directly influences the company’s productivity rates.
As more and more workers take sick leave, productivity is slowly taking a downfall affecting the investments that generate human capital. Since the most affected are women and children, the sectors that focus on employing a general women workforce are at a serious threat of experiencing the economic impact of HIV.
The Effect of STDs on Labor Supply
STDs or HIV, in particular, affect the labor supply by increasing morbidity and mortality. Certain sectors of the labor market are directly affected.
In the southern region of the continent, 60% of the workers who work in the mining industry are between 30 to 44 years old, many of whom are infected with STDs. In 2002, records predicted that 15 years in the future, the workforce would decrease by 10%.
Many years later, the impact of the diseases did show a significant change in the workforce, which has forced many companies to find a cost-effective way to reduce the prevalence of HIV and STDs. However, with the increase in health care costs, company-sponsored voluntary testing and counseling programs have become more difficult to implement.
The Effects of STDs on the Taxable Population
STDs, especially HIV, seriously hinder the taxable population, greatly lowering the available resources for public expenditures like healthcare or educational services. As the tax revenues fall, government incomes slowly decline as well, forcing them to spend more on STD treatments and prevention if they are to create an effective way to get out of the fiscal crisis.
Each household has to spend more on healthcare services to manage STDs and lose income in the process. The income loss has led to reduced spending, which has taken the investments away from the funeral, healthcare, medication, and education spending.
According to statistics, households who live with an HIV infected individual spend 50% more on medical expenses than any other non-infected household. Due to the increased costs in treatment, many results in working in the sex industry. The sex industry in the African region adds an additional income to a household. However, it leaves them vulnerable to becoming infected with STDs or transmit the infection onto a sexual partner.
The Effects of STDs on Exports and Imports
Decreased domestic productivity has a major impact on exports and imports. Decreased life expectancy reduces the GDP in many African regions. From 1990 to 2025, the growth rate is expected to be between 0.56% to 1.47% lower. In 2000, these predictions did show the expected results and had decreased by 0.7% annually from 1990 to 1997.
There is a massive decline in export income, but a significant increase in imports with expensive medications for STDs and other goods for the healthcare industry coming in at a much higher price.
As a result, there is no balance between import expenditure and export earnings. This puts a strain on the government budget, resulting in debts by default. To control the debt, African governments rely on international help and economic assistance.
Government’s Response to STDs in Africa
Multiple governments from the sub-Saharan African region have denied the problem for many years. Some have just recently decided to start addressing the issue. Due to conservative values and underfunding, the prevention of STDs has remained a serious problem in developing regions indirectly affecting the country’s supply chain.
In other words, the STD pandemic in Africa is more than just a medical issue; it’s a major problem for the continent’s economic growth and advancement. Therefore, more medical interventions are necessary to put these diseases under control. Learning about the economic environment in this region can help build sustainable STD programs for managing the conditions.