Tuesday, April 17, 2007

WB: 19% of RP population in 2000 very poor

At least 14.8 million Filipinos try to survive on less than $1 a day, accounting for 1.5 percent of the people in the world currently trapped in extreme poverty, according to latest World Bank estimates.

But some 43 million in the Philippines, based on the country’s population in 2000, live on $2 a day, the less extreme international measure of poverty.

Data from the World Development Indicators (WDI) 2007 showed that global poverty rates continued to fall in the first four years of the 21st century, with the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day falling below the 1 billion mark.

Two-dollar-a-day poverty rates were falling too, but an estimated 2.6 billion people, almost half the population of the developing world, were still living below that level in 2004.

The WDI Indicators 2007, a publication, was launched here on Sunday on the sidelines of the joint International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings.

People living on less than $1 a day fell to 18.4 percent as a share of the total population in 2004, leaving an estimated 985 million people living in extreme poverty.

By comparison, the total number of the world’s extremely poor was 1.25 billion in 1990.

Between 1990 and 2004, dollar-a-day poverty fell by more than 260 million, according to the World Bank.

Filipinos living on the $1-a-day international poverty line accounted for 19 percent of the Philippine population of 76.5 million as of May 2000. (The country’s population today is about 88 million.)

Poverty measures, based on an international poverty line, attempt to hold the real value of poverty constant across countries, as done when making comparisons over time.

The commonly used $1-a-day standard, measured in 1985 international prices and adjusted to local currency, is typical of the poverty lines in low-income countries.

By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

HIV infections in Asia could more than double in 5 years: Commission

The number of people in Asia infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS could more than double to 20 million over the next five years without a better government response and more funding, officials warned Friday.

"At the current level of inadequate response, it is expected this number will rise to about 20 million in the next five years," said the independent Commission on Aids in Asia that is funded by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS or UNAIDS.

There are currently around 8.6 million people infected in Asia with HIV. It said the number of deaths currently average around 500,000 yearly and financial losses to the Asian region are estimated at US$10
billion annually. But that economic cost is predicted to rise to as high as US$29 billion per year if the epidemic is not controlled within the next five years.

Despite these projections, investments on HIV control in the region remain extremely low at ten percent of the required US$5 billion per year, it added.

UNAIDS data show the number of infected people receiving antiretroviral therapy, which inhibits the replication of the HIV virus, has increased more than threefold since 2003, but they represent only 16 percent of the total of those in need of treatment in Asia.

Only Thailand is providing treatment to at least 50 percent of those in need, UNAIDS said.

The nine-member commission of economists, policy makers and civil society members was created in 2006 to analyze the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS and make policy recommendations on how it can be
mitigated. The commission is holding its two-day Southeast Asia Sub-Regional workshop in Manila until Friday.

Chakravarthy Rangarajan, chairman of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic advisory council and head of the commission, told reporters that while the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is low in Southeast Asia, the region is populous, making the number of infections high.

It also has a huge number of mobile workers, who risk spreading HIV. He also said there was a need to mobilize domestic funds to control HIV/AIDS in the region, because more than 80 percent of funding
currently comes from foreign aid organizations.

In Southeast Asia, Laos and the Philippines are among those which have low HIV prevalence rates, while Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand are among those which have a high prevalence of the virus, according
to J. V. R. Prasada Rao, a UNAIDS director and a member of the commission.

The commission said the reasons for the inadequate response in the region are manifold, ranging from low levels of awareness and understanding among policy makers of the long term impact of HIV/AIDS
to a difficulty in predicting the dynamics of the disease progression, and a lack of funding.

Sex remains taboo, with very little encouragement for sex and family education for young people. Multi-partner sex and injecting drug use, which mainly drive the epidemic, are criminal acts in the eyes of the
law, resulting in infected populations remaining highly stigmatized and deprived of even limited health care services, it added.

(originally posted at AIDS_ASIA@yahoogroups.com)

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