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October 2009
Vol. 19 No. 10
Global ID
Where Will PEPFAR Find 140,000 New Health Care Workers?

It seems there are still more questions than answers about how the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will achieve a key milestone: recruiting and retaining 140,000 new health care workers over the next five years in countries hard hit by the AIDS epidemic.

Congress included that provision when lawmakers reauthorized PEPFAR last year, part of a broader effort to strengthen developing countries’ health systems. But turning that promise into a reality is a tall order, given the severity of current workforce shortages, the time, effort, and expense involved in training new doctors and nurses, and the brain drain of health care professionals from resource poor countries to more affluent ones. You can read more about this issue at the Center for Global Health Policy’s blog, ScienceSpeaks.

During a recent presentation at the Global Health Council, Karin Turner, a senior USAID official whose portfolio includes health system strengthening and heath care workforce issues for Southern Africa, said there was still some “fogginess” on how this effort would unfold in the context of PEPFAR’s pivot to focus more on health system strengthening.

Some of the uncertainties Turner highlighted:

  • Will program officials and implementers be looking more at general health outcomes or HIV outcomes under the new PEPFAR law?
  • What is PEPFAR II’s vision of health systems?
  • Will the focus be on building sustainability or meeting new targets, or both?

Read more about this topic and other global health news at
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