More Nurses NeededNow!!!
Train more, pay them more, and give them more voice:
Nurses are the ``linchpin'' of front-line workers in the battle against HIV/AIDS around the world, yet their voices too often go unheard and their needs unmet, a forum for the health-care providers was told Saturday in the run-up to the International AIDS Conference.
``As nurses, you play a pivotal role in creating safe environments for people living with HIV to access the care, the treatment and the support that they need to be as healthy and productive as possible,'' federal Health Minister Tony Clement told about 250 nurses gathered for the International Nurses Forum at the University of Toronto.
``As the world's largest group of health-care providers, nurses are really an essential human resource in all of our health-care systems,'' said Clement. ``The world needs your dialogue and debate on this issue.''
Yet shortages of nurses have had a profound effect on health care in Canada and other countries worldwide, he said, noting that nations must focus on ratcheting up nurse-training programs to bolster the workforce and improve patient care _ especially where HIV/AIDS has decimated populations and the health sector.
Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy for AIDS in Africa, said the acute shortage of nurses has been felt perhaps most in sub-Saharan Africa, where their numbers have been decimated both by HIV/AIDS and through ``poaching'' by other countries.
With the disease also killing and disabling other key health providers, such as doctors and pharmacists, those nurses left often must do triple-duty - testing and diagnosing, dispensing drugs, and counseling and caring for patients.
``It's the ultimate irony,'' said Lewis, the keynote speaker at the forum. ``You finally get fixed-dose generic (drug) combinations, you have the drugs in the pipeline, they're flowing freely - and you don't have the people to roll out the treatment.''