In 1999, the ECA Joint Conference of Ministers responsible for Finance and Economic Planning and Development passed resolution 832 (XXXIII) urging ECA and its partners to examine the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in African countries.
The AIDS epidemic is reversing many hard won gains in social and economic development. In some African countries the epidemic has already lowered average life expectancy by as much as 10 to 17 years. HIV/AIDS is different from most diseases because it strikes people in the most productive age groups and is fatal. The HIV/AIDS threat is now the single most pressing development challenge confronting African countries. Given the role of the Commission, that is, to support the economic and social development of its member States, HIV/AIDS is one of its major concerns.
To help address this challenge, ECA has been using its convening power to bring policy-makers together to encourage appropriate policy responses at the national and regional level. ECA is working closely with UNAIDS and other development partners to gain strong support from political leaders to make the AIDS issue a national priority. ECA is also working with African governments to create an enabling environment with conditions for successful prevention, care and mitigation programmes and for protecting Africa's future development prospects.