Boston Globe Examines World Health Organization's Strategy to Increase Health Workers Worldwide by Four Million to Fight HIV/AIDS
August 21, 2006
The Boston Globe on Monday examined a strategy the World Health Organization released last week at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto that calls for four million additional health care workers worldwide to fight HIV/AIDS (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/21). 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 plan 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. According to WHO, providing the amount of staffing needed would cost about $7.2 billion to $14 billion over the next five years (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16). According to the Globe, the shortage in large part is because of the migration of health care workers from rural areas to urban areas, as well as large numbers of urban health care workers dying of AIDS-related illnesses. Other health care workers immigrate to more developed countries because they are "tempted by the salaries of wealthier nations," the Globe reports. "We can't really blame people for wanting to have a better life," Jim Kim, former director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department and a professor of medicine at Harvard University, said, adding, "So we will have to establish conditions that will make them want to come back" to their homelands. According to Kim, the process will involve more than increasing health care workers' salaries. "The medical institutions are often bankrupt and devoid of intellectual stimulation," he said. Partners in Health -- an organization co-founded by Kim and Harvard professor Paul Farmer -- aims to provide a model for delivering health care to impoverished areas and involving local health care workers to deliver care. According to the Globe, PIH has "become a beacon for young doctors who otherwise would have left their homeland" (Boston Globe, 8/21).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.