Tackling health workforce shortages during antiretroviral treatment scale-up-experiences from Ethiopia and Malawi

F Rasschaert, M Philips, L Van Leemput, Y Assefa, E Schouten, W Van Damme

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    In many sub-Saharan countries, the health workforce shortage has been a major constraint in the scale-up of antiretroviral treatment. This human resource crisis has led to profound adjustments of the antiretroviral treatment care delivery model in several countries in the region. It also inspired some governments to take swift measures to substantially increase human resources capacity. This article draws on the experience of Malawi and Ethiopia, which have been able to successfully increase their health workforce over a relatively short period, allowing scaling up of antiretroviral treatment. Additional international HIV funding and strong political commitment made possible this exceptional response. Both countries implemented a combination of measures to tackle the human resource crisis: the delegation of medical and administrative tasks to lower health cadres and lay workers, the introduction of new health cadres, the reinforcement of preservice training, and improving health staff remuneration. In particular, the involvement of community and lay health workers in HIV-related service delivery substantially increased the health workforce. The involvement of lay cadres has important long-term implications. To sustain results, continued political commitment, ongoing training and supervision to maintain quality of care, and strategies to avoid attrition among lay cadres will be essential. Although task shifting and involvement of lay cadres allowed bridging of the human resource gap in a short time, other strategies have to be considered simultaneously, and all interventions must be maintained over a longer period to yield results.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
    Issue numberSuppl. 2
    Pages (from-to)S109-S112
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Viral diseases
    • HIV
    • AIDS
    • Antiretrovirals
    • HAART
    • Health personnel
    • Workload
    • Task shifting
    • Control programs
    • Health services
    • Training
    • Administration
    • Quality of care
    • Governance
    • Human resource management
    • Malawi
    • Africa-Southern
    • Ethiopia
    • Africa-East


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