The socioeconomic impact of HIV/AIDS in Monze District, Zambia
Zambia has one of the highest HIV seroprevalence rates in the world, estimated in 1995 at 17%. Rural Monze district in the Southern province, the site of the study, has high rates of HIV, estimated at 10-12% in 1991. During the study, the district was affected not only by AIDS but also by the 1991-92 drought and by a bovine epidemic of East Coast Fever. This study documents the impact of HIV and AIDS on the health services and on the district economy, and draws some long term implications for the national economy. At the district hospital, approximately 44% of inpatients and 30% of outpatients were HIV seropositive as were 18% of rural health centre patients. Tuberculosis, other respiratory infections, and diarrhoea accounted for the majority of days in hospital. The HIV epidemic was found to be affecting the hospital staff as well, with mortality at Monze and neighbouring Choma hospitals rising from 2 per 1,000 nurse years in 1980 to 27 in 1991 - a 13-fold increase. Measures to increase supply, reduce losses, and make better use of existing staff are proposed. The household survey found that while patients were better off overall than the district population, there was no appreciable difference in wealth between patients with HIV infection and those without. HIV-positive patients were younger than HIV-negative patients, and had fewer children. The loss of a member with HIV would cause a rise in the average household's dependency ratio of 16-17%. Production was affected by HIV disease, with an average of 94 days' loss of labour (patients plus carers) in the final year of life. Implications for policy include the need to decentralize care of patients with HIV disease to health centres, and to protect and make better use of the health human resources. The impact of HIV/AIDS on rural production, with approximately 1 in 3 district households having a member with AIDS, combined with external factors such as removal of subsidies, changes in marketing processes under structural adjustment, and long term drought, makes it increasingly difficult to eke out a living from farming. Combined with the lure of apparent employment opportunities in urban areas created by deaths due to AIDS, these factors may contribute to increased urbanization, making it difficult for Zambia to replace declining copper revenues with increased yields from agricultural production.