More doctors, nurses needed in Aids fight


16 August 2006

A shortage of about four million doctors and nurses in 60 poor, primarily African countries has become a major obstacle in fighting HIV/Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

In the announcement made on Tuesday at the International Aids Conference in Toronto, WHO said sub-Saharan Africa has been the worst affected by the shortage.

It accounts for 11% of the world's population, but 65% of the world's HIV infections and only 3% of its doctors and nurses, WHO said.

Asia -- particularly Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia -- is also affected by shortages, the United Nations agency added.

HIV itself has contributed to the shortages through death, disability and demoralisation of health workers. Low wages and a lack of career opportunities have also made medical careers unattractive or caused health workers in poor countries to take jobs in rich nations, cities or well-off aid groups where they can earn more.

WHO announced the launch of a programme called Treat, Train, Retrain with the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration to increase the number of medical workers in the 60 countries and give them better resources to fight HIV.

At least $7,2-billion will be needed over the next five years for the initiative, WHO estimated, but the cost could rise as high as $14-billion, or 60c per person in the affected countries. -- Sapa-dpa

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