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Keywords:

  • AIDS;
  • human resources;
  • health workforce;
  • policy;
  • international agencies

Summary

In scaling up antiretroviral treatment (ART), financing is fast becoming less of a constraint than the human resources to ensure the implementation of the programmes. In the countries hardest affected by the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic, AIDS increases workloads, professional frustration and burn-out. It affects health workers also directly, contributing to rising sick leave and attrition rates. This burden is shouldered by a health workforce weakened already by chronic deficiencies in training, distribution and retention. In these countries, health workforce issues can no longer be analysed from the traditional perspective of human resource development, but should start from the position that entire societies are in a process of social involution of a scale unprecedented in human history. Strategies that proved to be effective and correct in past conditions need be reviewed, particularly in the domains of human resource management and policy-making, education and international aid. True paradigm shifts are thus required, without which the fundamental changes required to effectively strengthen the health workforce are unlikely to be initiated.