Resource Spotlight: Taking Stock: Health Worker Shortages and the Response to AIDS

Number of health workers in WHO regions
Health workers in WHO regions: WHO

Health services depend on having the right people, with the right skills, in the right place. Yet, the world is experiencing a chronic shortage of well-trained health workers, a crisis felt most acutely in those countries that are experiencing the greatest public health threats. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over four million health workers are needed to fill the gap and the global deficit of doctors, nurses and midwives in particular is no less than 2.4 million.

The reasons for the health workforce shortage include poor pay and working conditions, lack of training and migration. But the problem is particularly complex in those countries most affected by HIV. High HIV prevalence contributes to the shortage by rendering the health workers themselves vulnerable to death and disease. The response to AIDS depends largely on people who are at risk of getting sick and dying. This is why there is now a need for more targeted interventions to support these health workers, enable them to deliver good care and keep them in their positions.

Adapted from author.

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