Shortage of Health Workers in Developing Countries Affecting Global Health Efforts, Including Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Panel Says
The critical shortage of health workers in developing countries is affecting global health efforts, including the fight against HIV/AIDS, and must be addressed, a panel of experts said Tuesday at an event sponsored by the Global Health Council, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to the panel, the biggest challenge is retaining health workers in developing countries, particularly when they are being offered incentives such as better jobs and higher wages in wealthier nations. According to the World Health Organization, sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a shortage of nearly 1.5 million doctors, nurses and midwives. Sallie Craig Huber -- program manager for planning, monitoring and evaluation at Management Sciences for Health who organized health workers in Afghanistan -- said improving working conditions and training members of the community in health care skills are key ways to address the shortage. Slavea Chankova, a panelist and senior analyst in the international health division of Abt Associates, said there is a lack of data on health worker trends, including why they move and the number who return to their home countries. According to a two-year research project Chankova helped conduct that examined health systems in five African countries, rates of health workers leaving -- either to go to other countries or to the private sector -- usually were higher than the number of health workers entering the market and it would not be feasible to reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, including stopping the spread of HIV, without increasing the number of health workers (Blinkhorn, CQ HealthBeat, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.