Task shifting in HIV/AIDS: opportunities, challenges and proposed actions for sub-Saharan Africa


Zachariah, R; Ford, N; Philips, M; Lynch, S; Massaquoi, M; Janssens, V; Harries, AD; (2009) Task shifting in HIV/AIDS: opportunities, challenges and proposed actions for sub-Saharan Africa. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 103 (6). pp. 549-558. ISSN 0035-9203 DOI: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2008.09.019

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Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a crisis in human health resources due to a critical shortage of health workers. The shortage is compounded by a high burden of infectious diseases; emigration of trained professionals; difficult working conditions and low motivation. In particular, the burden of HIV/AIDS has led to the concept of task shifting being increasingly promoted as a way of rapidly expanding human resource capacity. This refers to the delegation of medical and health service responsibilities from higher to lower cadres of health staff, in some cases non-professionals. This paper, drawing on Medecins Sans Frontieres' experience of scaling-up antiretroviral treatment in three sub-Saharan African countries (Malawi, South Africa and Lesotho) and supplemented by a review of the literature, highlights the main opportunities and challenges posed by task shifting and proposes specific actions to tackle the challenges. The opportunities include: increasing access to life-saving treatment; improving the workforce skills mix and health-system efficiency; enhancing the role of the community; cost advantages and reducing attrition and international 'brain drain'. The challenges include: maintaining quality and safety; addressing professional and institutional resistance; sustaining motivation and performance and preventing deaths of health workers from HIV/AIDS. Task shifting should not undermine the primary objective of improving patient benefits and public health outcomes. (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
PubMed ID: 18992905
Web of Science ID: 266893300003
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/5166

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