Philadelphia Inquirer Examines Nursing Shortage in Africa, Effect on Health Crises Such as HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria
The Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday examined the departure of nurses from African nations to seek higher salaries in more developed countries, a situation that is making it more difficult for African nations to treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Nurses, who are "on the front lines of Africa's various health crises, ... toil in difficult conditions," putting their own health at risk because of poor sanitation and inadequate basic supplies such as clean gloves and syringes (Bengali, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/20). According to the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2006 released earlier this month, a shortage of more than four million health care workers in 57 developing countries -- most of them in Africa -- is hampering efforts to combat the three diseases. The report also says that sub-Saharan Africa, which has 24% of the global disease burden, has only 3% of the health care workforce worldwide and accounts for less than 1% of global health care spending (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/7). In the U.S., there are 937 nurses for every 100,000 residents, compared with 114 nurses in Kenya and 21 in Ethiopia, according to the report. A provision to an immigration bill in the U.S. Senate that would remove the cap on the number of special visas granted to foreign nurses -- which currently is set at 500 nurses annually -- has been criticized by U.S. and African health experts, who say it would further decrease the numbers of much needed health care workers in Africa, the Inquirer reports (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.