July 26, 2018

Opinion: We won’t end AIDS unless we invest in health workers

Written by Vanessa Kerry, CEO and co-founder of Seed Global Health

This article originally appeared on Devex. Reposted in part with permission.

Community health working discussing HIV test with couple

A community health worker explains the results of a HIV test to a couple expecting their first child. Photo by: Robbie Flick / Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation–Malawi / CC BY-NC-ND

Advancements in health and science and a sea change in policy priorities over the past decade have made it possible to believe that an end to the HIV epidemic might be in sight. HIV has been one of the worst killers in history, infecting more than 70 million people worldwide and killing 35 million.

Yet today, we are at a crossroads, and it is clear that to truly help extinguish this disease, we must acknowledge the simmering crisis undermining many HIV efforts: the global shortage of skilled, trained health workers.

Today, there are not enough doctors, nurses, midwives, and frontline health care workers to address the burden of HIV, let alone the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases. In Malawi, for example, there are only about two physicians for every 100,000 people; in the United States, there are close to 257 physicians for every 100,000 people. However, without increased investment, the projected shortage will grow to 18 million by 2030, hurting primarily those in low- and middle-income countries where the HIV burden is highest.

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