100,000 Health Care Workers Needed in Africa To Distribute Antiretroviral Drugs, WHO Director-General Lee Says
Africa needs at least 100,000 health care workers to help distribute antiretroviral medicines on the continent, where 70% of the world's HIV-positive people live, World Health Organization Director-General Jong-Wook Lee said on Wednesday while in Singapore, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. "It's difficult to grasp the magnitude of the problem," Lee said, adding, "The 8,000 people dying every day from AIDS is equivalent to 30 jumbo jets crashing every day." More than 40 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, and more than three million died of AIDS-related causes in 2003, according to UNAIDS statistics. WHO estimates that five million HIV-positive people need antiretroviral treatment, but less than 400,000 currently have access to the medications, the AP/Chronicle reports. Lee said that WHO's 3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to provide antiretroviral drugs to three million HIV-positive people worldwide by 2005, could be successful if enough health care workers are found to deliver the drugs, according to the AP/Chronicle. "Why would people come out and get tested when they cannot get the medicine?" he asked. Lee also urged people not to believe that HIV/AIDS is only a problem in Africa. He said that HIV prevalence is rising in Eastern Europe and Russia and that the virus is prevalent in Southeast Asia. "Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are countries struggling to cope with the virus," Lee said (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 4/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.