December 18, 2003
Improving Health Care
The report says that efforts to combat individual diseases are "essential" but that policymakers must address overall health care services, because faltering health care could "increase the risk that epidemics will spread," the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. HIV/AIDS' impact on medical services in developing countries means that health care systems have trouble caring for people with other diseases, therefore increasing the gap between rich and poor countries (Fowler, AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/18). The report recommends that an international response address "critical" shortages of health care workers, inadequate health information, a lack of financial resources and the need for more government leadership focused on "improving the health of the poorest members of society," according to the release (WHO release, 12/18). The report says that the most critical issue facing health care systems in developing countries is a shortage of health care workers, which "severely constrains the response to the AIDS treatment emergency and development of health systems driven by primary health care" (Capella, Agence France-Presse, 12/18).
Robert Beaglehole, editor in chief of the report, said that in the coming year WHO will focus on two priorities: building health systems to lessen the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor countries and increasing HIV/AIDS treatment to combat the disease's negative impact. Beaglehole said that WHO "will be very active on HIV and AIDS, because there hasn't been such a reversal like this of life expectancy, at such a scale, since the Black Death of the 14th century" (Boston Globe, 12/18). WHO Director-General Jong-Wook Lee said, "These global health gaps are unacceptable. Effective action to improve population health is possible in every country but it takes local knowledge and strength and sustained international support to turn that possibility into reality" (AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/18).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2003 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.