WHO To Increase Access To HIV/AIDS Services
The WorldHealth Organization on Tuesday at a conference in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia, released new guidelines to address health worker shortagesand help expand access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and careservices, Panapress/Afriquenlignereports. Health ministers and experts from 57 countries worldwide areparticipating in the three-day conference to discuss how toredistribute jobs of health workers in countries facing both workershortages and communicable disease epidemics, Panapress/Afriquenlignereports. According to Fritz Lherisson, a conference delegate fromUNAIDS, 36 of the57 countries worldwide that face critical health care workersshortages are in Africa (Panapress/Afriquenligne,1/8).
Anders Nordstrom, WHO assistant director of healthsystems, at the conference said such countries should implement "taskshifting" to give health workers with fewer qualifications moreresponsibilities, AFP/Google.comreports (AFP/Google.com, 1/8). According to one recommendationincluded in the task-shifting recommendations, community healthworkers -- including people living with HIV/AIDS -- safely andeffectively can provide HIV/AIDS services in a health facility and inthe community, Panapress/Afriquenligne reports(Panapress/Afriquenligne, 1/8).
"Doctors andnurses are essential, but countries cannot afford to wait years whilethey complete their training," Nordstrom said. "Taskshifting not only addresses the two interlinked emergencies of thehealth worker crisis and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but also offerslong-term potential for strengthening health systems in a way that isconsistent with the current renaissance in primary health careservices," he added (AFP/Google.com, 1/8).
Ethiopia'sHealth Minister Tewodros Adhanom said the shortage of healthpersonnel in sub-Saharan Africa results from the failure of publichealth systems to train enough staff, a lack of conducive workenvironments and an insufficient focus on primary health care. "Inorder to address the situation in its totality, task shifting shouldbe the major tool for reinvigorating our health systems," hesaid, adding that unless the human resources issue is addressedimmediately, the result of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosisand malaria will be devastating.
The conference -- which iscosponsored by WHO, UNAIDS, the President'sEmergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the government of Ethiopia --is expected to produce a call for action on task shifting in aneffort to expand access to universal health services(Panapress/Afriquenligne, 1/8). According toAFP/Google.com, an additional four million health workers are neededworldwide (AFP/Google.com, 1/8).
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