About 4M Additional Health Workers Needed Worldwide To Fight HIV/AIDS, WHO Says
More than four million additional health workers will be needed in 60 countries to fight HIV/AIDS, according to a strategy the World Health Organization released Tuesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plan, titled "Treat, Train and Retain," was prepared by WHO in collaboration with the International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration. The need for health care workers is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa and Asian countries -- such as Bangladesh, India and Indonesia -- according to WHO. WHO also calls for training health care workers specifically in HIV/AIDS, "retasking" health workers' responsibilities to allow nonmedical staff to provide HIV/AIDS treatment and counseling, increasing salaries and benefits, and preventing burnout. Health care workers in countries where HIV prevalence is 15% are at a high risk of contracting the disease, Badara Samb, WHO's coordinator of health system strengthening, said. According to Samb, a World Bank study shows that countries with HIV prevalence of 15% can lose 30% of their health care work force to AIDS-related illnesses within 10 years (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 8/16). According to WHO, providing the amount of staffing needed would cost about $7.2 billion to $14 billion over the next five years (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/15). Kevin De Cock, director of the WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, said it is not clear who would provide the funding to boost staffing, but he added that the agency will petition the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Wall Street Journal, 8/16). "The shortage of health workers is devastating public health systems, particularly in the developing world, and it is one of the most significant challenges we face in preventing and treating HIV," Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO's assistant director-general, said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/16).
Kaisernetwork.org is serving as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006.