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‘Treat, Train, Retain’ – a WHO plan to meet HIV workers’ shorage

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has introduced a coordinated global plan, especially in developing countries to meet the severe shortage of health workers to handle// HIV/AIDS-related cases.

57 countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (mainly Bangladesh, India and Indonesia) are facing acute shortage. Over 4 million workers are needed in these countries.

The WHO’s plan ‘Treat, Train, Retain’ is an essential part of its effort in improving human resource for health and supporting comprehensive national plans for development of human resource for different disease programmes. Promotion of universal access to HIV/AIDS services is also included in the plan.

The sub Saharan Africa has 11% of the world’s population and nearly, 64% of the people are living with HIV. But only 3% of the world’s health workers are present in this area. Thus, this region faces an acute shortage.

Worldwide, the health workers are concentrated in urban areas. Thus, the rural areas face a shortage. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is becoming the major cause of mortality, productivity loss and discouragement among health workers. The disease has changed young people’s perception of health work. They don’t find it as an attractive career. Several workers trained in the developing world health systems quit their jobs for better paying jobs in wealthy countries, in bigger cities or in non-government organizations (NGOs).

The countries severely hit by HIV/AIDS will be concentrated upon by "Treat, Train, Retain". These countries can adapt some of the options included in the plan according to their specific needs. A minimum of $7.2 billion will be required over the next 5 years for implementation of the plan in the 60 countries with highest HIV cases, according to WHO estimates. This tallies with an annual per capita cost of approximately $0.6 in the countries concerned, or 2-5 % of the health expenditure typical of low-income coutries.

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