lobal Snapshots: Botswana - best positioned to fight worst AIDS epidemic
- By: Duncan Edwards
Botswanans have a life expectancy of 36 years, the lowest in the world.1 Yet Botswana has long been one of the few African success stories, rising from one of the poorest countries in the world at independence in 1966 to being the fourth richest African country (per head) today.2 Increased wealth, largely from the diamond trade, has gone hand in hand with improvements for the people, such as universal health care and education. Life expectancy soared to more than 60 years in the 1980s. Then came AIDS.
You could say Botswana was a victim of its own success. The nation's mining communities and road networks boomed after the discovery of diamonds, but these seemingly positive developments also provided a pool of single men and improved transport, which probably helped to spread HIV. By the late 1980s, while the world was wringing its hands about the scale of the HIV epidemic