Less qualified health workers should be used in HIV/AIDS care in developing countries facing severe shortages of doctors and nurses, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday.
To increase access to treatment, the WHO called instead for "task shifting," giving health workers with fewer qualifications greater responsibilities.
"Doctors and nurses are essential but countries cannot afford to wait years while they complete their training," said Anders Nordstrom, WHO's assistant director of health systems.
"Task shifting not only addresses the two interlinked emergencies of the health worker crisis and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but also offers long-term potential for strengthening health systems in a way that is consistent with the current renaissance in primary health-care services," Nordstrom added.
The WHO said at least 57 countries, mostly in Africa, are facing severe health personnel shortages in their fight against HIV/AIDS. An additional four million health workers are needed globally.
Although sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over ten percent of the world's population, it is the most ravaged by HIV/AIDS with more than 60 percent of all cases, or around 25.8 million people, according to UNAIDS.