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Africa: AIDS Resources Gaps
Apr 15, 2005 (050415)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
Despite increases in recent years, funding to fight the global AIDS
pandemic is still only approximately half the minimum of more than
$12 billion a year estimated to be needed. But the gaps are not
only financial. Activists are increasingly emphasizing the even
larger gaps in adequate human resources and upgraded health
systems, that are essential for turning small-scale successes into
sustainable larger programs.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains an organizational sign-on letter
initiated by HealthGap and addressed to the G8 leaders who will be
meeting in July. This will be half-way through the year that the
World Health Organization has designated as the target for
increasing the number of people being treated with anti-retrovirals
to three million from less than 700,000 at the end of 2004.
(http://www.who.int/3by5/coverage/en). In the last six months of
2004, the number on treatment in Africa increased from 150,000 to
310,000. But for such advances to continue, the G-8 and affected
countries as well must both provide more money and address other
obstacles to sustaining new programs.
Also included below are excerpts from the April 13 testimony before
the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International
Relations by Holly Burkhalter, of Physicians for Human Rights,
focused on the critical issue of
human resources for health.
For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletins on human resources for health,
see http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/migr0503.php and
For a full archive of AfricaFocus Bulletins on health issues, see
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Healthgap Sign-on Letter to G8 Leaders
Please add your organizational endorsement to this call to action
on global AIDS targeting the heads of state of the G8 countries, in
the run-up to the July Summit of the G8 in Scotland. Note: we are
asking for organizational endorsement from groups from all
countries, not only those in G8 countries.
Please reply with
--the name of your organization, --the country location, --and your
website (if applicable) to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for
signing is April 24, 2005. The platform is also available as a pdf
file from email@example.com..
The G8 Must Take Action to Make AIDS History
We, the undersigned organizations, call on leaders of the G8
nations to make good on their existing promises and to commit
additional resources to make AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria history
through commitments on these key issues:
FUNDING THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS
G8 countries have endorsed funding for a Global AIDS Vaccine
Enterprise, and are debating mechanisms to increase overall donor
aid, such as the International Finance Facility (IFF). But a G8
focus on vaccine research and development with no commitment to
closing the massive funding gap is unacceptable. Likewise,
discussion of a mechanism for increasing donor aid is not a
substitute for immediate increases in donor country spending in
order to fully fund the fight against AIDS, and address the needs
of the 40 million people living with HIV around the world.
G8 leaders must:
- Immediately provide the funding needed to meet the goals of the
WHO-led campaign to treat 3 million of the estimated 6 million HIVpositive
people who are in urgent clinical need of HIV treatment by
2005 ( 3 by 5ý).
- Increase funding for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support,
including palliative care, to reach a total of at least $12 billion
in 2005 and at least $19.9 billion by 2007. Provide an additional
$6 billion annually to fund the fight against tuberculosis and
malaria and $4.4 billion to address the needs of orphaned and
vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (GFATM)
and commit to predictable annual financing based on donor country
income and the GFATM's need. The GFATM requires more than $2.3
billion in 2005 and $3.5 billion in 2006 to finance grant rounds
five and six, as well as grant renewals.
DEBT CANCELLATION TO FIGHT AIDS
The massive external debts owed by poor countries are greatly
hindering the fight against HIV/AIDS. Billions of dollars are
redirected to servicing debts, when these funds should be used to
focus on urgent domestic issues, including addressing the AIDS
G8 leaders must:
- Immediately commit to 100% cancellation of the debts owed to the
IMF and World Bank for all impoverished countries, without harmful
or externally imposed economic conditions. Cancellation should be
financed through the use of IMF gold reserves. As necessary, World
Bank accumulated profits, provided that these do not penalize other
developing countries, and additional voluntary contributions from
wealthy countries should be considered for financing debt
- The funding freed up from cancelled debt must be additional to
donor funding needed to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
HIV/AIDS TREATMENT AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES
Lack of access to HIV treatment and care results in 8500 deaths
each day worldwide. G8 countries must lead the world s response to
G8 leaders must:
- Ensure the treatment targets of the "3x5" campaign are met: 3
million people on treatment by the end of 2005.
- Commit to a timetable for expanding access to HIV/AIDS care in
order to achieve universal access to free treatment by 2010.
- At minimum, change existing and pending bilateral and regional
Free Trade Agreements to comply with the Doha Declaration on the
TRIPS Agreement and Public Health to ensure that such agreements
protect public health and promote access to medicines for all.
- Urge developing countries to use all available flexibilities to
protect public health and promote access to medicines for all as
reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and
SUPPORT FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS
An immediate obstacle preventing the scale up of access to HIV
treatment, as well as tuberculosis and malaria, is the lack of
trained health care workers in developing countries, particularly
in African countries.
G8 leaders must:
- Commit sufficient resources, including funding for salary support
and other recurrent costs, to ensure recruitment and retention of
an adequate number of trained health care workers to deliver
essential health interventions, including HIV prevention, treatment
and care to all who need it, especially in remote and rural areas.
Community-based approaches to health care delivery, led by women
and men living with HIV/AIDS and their peers, should be given
particular support and attention.
- Provide long-term investments to develop sufficient education
capacity in developing countries to train needed numbers of health
care workers, particularly to meet needs in remote and rural areas.
- Change the macroeconomic policies promoted by the IMF to ensure
that IMF policies enable countries to allocate adequate funds to
develop health systems necessary to recruit, train, and retain
health workers, including through providing sufficient retention
Comprehensive, accurate, science-based HIV prevention saves lives
and should work in conjunction with treatment scale up efforts.
G8 leaders must:
- Support comprehensive HIV prevention interventions that are
driven by scientific evidence and best practice, not ideology. End
attacks on prevention interventions that are effective in fighting
HIV, such as condom use and access to sterile syringes.
- Stop pitting funding and other support for HIV prevention against
funding and support for HIV treatment. The success of the fight
against the AIDS pandemic is dependent upon a massive scale up of
both prevention and treatment efforts.
<list in formation>
Human Resources for Health And the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic
Testimony of Holly J. Burkhalter
Physicians for Human Rights
House International Relations Committee
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
[excerpts only; for full text visit http://www.phrusa.org/campaigns/aids ]
... Just a few years ago the concept of providing antiretroviral drugs, which at
the time cost more per capita per day than poor governments spent on health per
capita in a year, was largely a fantasy. But the drop in the price of
antiretroviral drugs and development of generic medicines of the past five years,
the extraordinary commitment of resources by President Bush and the United States
Congress, and the creation of a major new international financing mechanism to
confront the pandemic, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria,
have transformed HIV/AIDS for some in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean
into a manageable disease.
If access to treatment had been withheld from poor countries until they secured
the health infrastructure they needed to provide basic primary health care to
all, as well as manage an immense HIV/AIDS case load with medicines largely
unknown to them, those countries would be waiting for antiretrovirals to this
day. Fortunately, the vision of treatment activists and now major donors as well
has been to "build it as we go." ...
That approach has helped enlarge the number of people receiving anti-retroviral
treatment in sub-Saharan Africa from 50,000 in the end of 2002 to 310,000 in
December 2004. But it has become increasingly clear that donors and national
governments must simultaneously confront, ameliorate, and eventually remedy
Africa's disastrous shortage of trained health care workers. ...
While the dearth of health workers is undermining the huge scale up of HIV/AIDS
prevention, care, and treatment that Africa needs so desperately, conversely the
emphasis on HIV/AIDS services is drawing resources away from other vital health
services that are also in short supply. For example, at the 970-bed the Lilongwe
Central Hospital in Malawi, only 169 nurses were practicing in mid-2004, compared
to the 520 nurses whom the hospital was authorized to employ. The hospital's
former staff of 38 laboratory technicians had fallen to only six. The nurses and
laboratory technicians were moving to HIV/AIDS programs sponsored by NGOs and
overseas universities, precipitating a staffing crisis at this major national
... Adding new duties such as AIDS counseling, testing, and treatment to an
overburdened health work force without a commitment to dramatically enlarge their
numbers will not only undermine new AIDS treatments initiatives, it has the
potential to weaken fragile public health systems and erode other primary health
Durable solutions to the health worker shortage must include investing in African
health professionals and giving them incentives to stay home where they are
needed most. It means empowering African medical and nursing schools to recruit,
train, and provide continuing education. And it will require that the U.S. and
other Western countries that recruit African health workers adopt an ethical
approach to the brain drain.
Background: Africa's Health Worker Shortage:
... The health worker shortage in Africa that is now in the public eye because
of the AIDS pandemic has also been a key factor in other health emergencies,
including the continent's tragically high rate of maternal mortality. In subSaharan
Africa, a woman's lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 16, compared
to 1 in 2,800 in rich countries. According to the World Health Report 2005 - Make
Every Child and Mother Count, "Putting in place the health workforce needed for
scaling up maternal, newborn and child health services towards universal access
is the first and most pressing task."
The United Kingdom's Commission for Africa, noting this disparity in its recent
report, recommends that African countries and donors unite to add 1 million
health care workers to Africa within a decade, nearly tripling Africa's health
workforce. The Commission estimates that Africa requires an immediate annual
increase of $10 billion, rising to at least $20 billion, in donor assistance to
the health sector, including health worker specific needs such as pre-service
training and salary.
The health worker shortage has multiple origins, including massive underinvestment
in health systems, inadequate attention to human resource policies,
the death of health workers and enormous burden of care created by the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, and deficits in the health worker education system. These problems, in
turn, underlie the large-scale migration of health professionals from Africa to
wealthier countries, such as the United States and United Kingdom. In some
countries, the majority of physicians are leaving, and the number of nurses
emigrating has skyrocketed in the past decade.
In the absence of comprehensive data, country examples and anecdotes highlight
the scope of this "brain drain." As of 2001, only 360 of the 1200 physicians
trained in Zimbabwe during the 1990s were still practicing in the country. In
2002/2003, more than 3,000 nurses trained in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria,
Ghana, Zambia, and Kenya registered in the United Kingdom. In 1999, about as many
nurses left Ghana as were trained there. It is frequently stated that more
Malawian doctors practice in Manchester, England, than in all of Malawi. Brain
drain is accelerated as wealthy nations, facing shortages in their own health
workforces, actively and aggressively recruit health professionals from some of
the countries that can least afford to lose them.
This migration, or brain drain, is part of a more complex flow of health workers
from poorer to wealthier developing countries, from the public sector to the
private sector, including for-profits as well as NGOs and vertical AIDS programs,
and from rural to urban areas. ...
Health workers are leaving, in large part, because they are unable to meet their
own needs or those of their patients. Their wages are inadequate, sometimes not
even enough to cover their basic living expenses. They have few opportunities to
develop themselves professionally, and fear contracting HIV and other infections
on the job, especially because they often lack the gloves and other protective
gear. Poor management and planning, leading to including inadequate supervision,
enormous workloads, late paychecks, and inadequate training, further harms health
worker morale. Health workers are trained to heal, but because they lack
sufficient medicines, supplies, and equipment, all too often they can do little
more than minister to death.
A key factor in the continent's brain drain of skilled health workers is the fact
that hospitals and clinics in much of sub-Saharan Africa lack basic infection
control, sanitation, and occupational safety. A survey by Physicians for Human
Rights of more than 1,000 health workers in Nigeria suggested that fear of
occupational exposure to HIV/AIDS contributes to stigma and discrimination
against people with AIDS because health workers are afraid they will contract the
virus from them. Even in Free State, South Africa, a recent survey conducted at
children and maternity units, including labor and pediatric wards, in 30
hospitals found that 49% of health workers reported shortages of protective gear
at some point during the course of the year. ...
Responding to the Shortage: Training Health Professionals Is Not Enough
Ambassador Tobias and his associates are attempting to address the health worker
shortage and have made some innovative grants, such as supporting a Zambian
scheme to offer incentives for urban doctors to relocate to underserved rural
areas. But to the best of our knowledge, the American contribution to the African
health work force has largely been limited to the training of health workers. ...
But training alone is not the answer to the health work force crisis in Africa;
indeed, it may even accelerate health worker flight. If working conditions,
salaries, benefits, management and opportunities for health workers in their own
countries are not also addressed, additional training simply makes it more likely
that the newly skilled nurse or doctor will be recruited or seek out a job in the
U.S., Canada, or Europe at a vastly higher salary. ...
To recruit the vast numbers of students to nursing and medical school and prevent
new graduates from leaving, national governments, donors, and international
institutions must join forces to eliminate the "push factors" that discourage
trained workers from staying home - the unsafe working conditions, low pay, poor
supervision, absence of benefits, staggering work loads, and dearth of supplies,
medicines, and equipment that sabotages worker satisfaction and patient health.
Even with substantial investments, the recruitment and retention of hundreds of
thousands of nurses, pharmacists, technicians and doctors is at best a multi-year
project, and poor people need health services today. We urge the Administration
and Congress to make the training of and assistance not only to skilled health
professionals but also to community health workers and home care givers an
essential component of a Global Health Workforce Initiative. ...
At the same time that both community health workers and family and volunteer
caregivers can provide important health services, both community health workers
and caregivers require significant support structures. The study on Uganda and
South Africa warned that without substantial investment in the home-based care,
the approach could exacerbate gender and poverty inequalities among families and
communities. Providing stipends, micro-credit or salaries to women engaged in
this work would help them, and offering them training, supplies, and drugs will
help the adults and children with AIDS who rely on them. Compensation is also
important to maintaining the motivation of community health workers, who are also
likely to be poor and require financial or material support.
Recommendations: The Next Phase of US Support for Health in Africa
Greatly increased spending by national governments and by foreign donors and
international organizations is required to enable countries to meet AIDS
prevention, care, and especially treatment targets and to sustain a high level
of coverage for these interventions. These systemic improvements to what is
typically the weakest part of health systems in Africa - personnel - will greatly
enhance countries' capacity to improve health in all areas, from combating other
major diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria to improving child survival and
driving down unspeakable levels of maternal mortality that plague much of Africa.
We envision an initiative with four main pillars:
First, the United States should provide technical assistance to countries in
assessing their current health workforce situations, in determining their health
workforce needs to achieve health targets, such as the Millennium Development
Goals, and in developing strategies to achieve those goals.
The strategies should be linked to overall health system development strategies
so that health worker strengthening occurs in concert with the other aspects of
health system strengthening require to achieve Millennium Development. So as to
guide both national budgets and donor assistance, the strategies should include
costing estimates. The strategies should also include coordination among donors
and the national government to ensure that the full cost of implementing these
strategies is covered. ...
Second, the United States should help fund the implementation of these
strategies. The activities funded should be determined by national strategies,
by the needs as expressed by the people of those countries. Based on strategies
that countries have already begun to implement, as well as the needs common to
the region that will determine the strategies, elements that will likely be in
most or all of these strategies include:
- Higher salaries for health workers
- Incentives for health workers to serve in rural areas
- Improved health worker safety, including full implementation of universal
safety precautions, post-exposure prophylaxis for health workers potentially
exposed to HIV, tuberculosis infection control, and hepatitis B vaccination
- Improved human resource management, including improving human resource policies
and enhancing management skills of local health managers
- Increased capacity of health training institutions, such as medical, nursing,
and pharmacy schools
- Providing continuous learning opportunities to health workers
- Support for community health workers, including compensation, training,
supervision, supplies, and linkages to health professional support and referral
systems. Training, supporting and deploying people living with AIDS as
counselors, prevention advocates, and care givers should be a priority.
- Re-hiring and rational deployment of retired or unemployed health professionals
- Health system improvements not specifically related to human resources for
health, such as assuring adequate and dependable provision of supplies and
Third, while it is necessary for countries to have human resources for health
strategies, enough is known about what is needed to begin funding many
interventions immediately, and indeed, the urgency of the crisis demands this.
... [for example] As of 2003, Kenya had 4,000 nurses, 1,000 clinical officers,
2,000 laboratory staff, and 160 pharmacists or pharmacy technicians who were
unemployed not because they were not needed, but because the government could not
afford to pay them. These workers need to be hired.
Fourth, the United States should support efforts by the World Health Organization
and others to collect and disseminate country lessons and experiences in human
resource policies and efforts to recruit, retain, and equitably deploy their
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