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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 17:06 GMT
Life expectancy still falling in Africa
Babies and midwives in South Africa
Europeans live on average 30 years longer than Africans
The life expectancy of Africans has dropped by 15 years within the past two decades because of the spread of Aids, together with the effect of continuing wars and poverty.

A conference on African population has been told that by 2005 a majority of Africans can expect to die before they reach the age of 48.

Aids in Africa
18 million lives claimed by Aids
28.1 million live with HIV or Aids
More than 9,000 infected each day
Source: World Bank

In contrast the European average is 74.9 years for men and 81.2 years for women.

A senior Organisation of African Unity official, Lawrence Agubuzu, told the four-day conference in Ethiopia that diseases were threatening the survival of entire communities.

Infant mortality is also a serious problem - in poorer countries such as Mali, more than 10% of babies die before they reach their first birthday.

Click here to see life expectancy in some African countries

In sub-Saharan African countries like Botswana and Malawi, the average life expectancy is already below 40 years, according to UNaids.

Security risk

Mr Agubuzu said women and children were the most vulnerable group, and their needs must be addressed.

He said diseases such as Aids, tuberculosis and related infectious diseases had become a risk to security and a major threat to development.

"Africa is distinctly characterised by abject socioeconomic conditions and unprecedented extreme demographic trends with far-reaching consequences," he said.

The UN estimates about $5bn is needed annually to help fight the spread of Aids in Africa and has called for more money from the international community.

Money

Just last week, the World Bank announced it had approved a second interest-free loan of $500m this year for African Aids initiatives.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who met African leaders a year ago, said intensifying the fight against HIV and Aids was central to the Bank's mission.

The World Bank and the United Nations agency UNAids estimate that approximately $3bn is needed every year to fund basic prevention, care and treatment programmes in Africa.



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See also:

28 Nov 01 | Africa
Africa devastated by Aids
07 Feb 02 | Africa
Mandela urges 'war' on HIV
06 Feb 02 | Europe
French live longest in Europe
19 Feb 01 | San Francisco
Life expectancy of 100 'unrealistic'
04 Jan 02 | Africa
UN demands more Aids money
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