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For the past decade, global AIDS donors—including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), and the World Bank’s Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program for Africa (the MAP)—have responded to HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa as an emergency. Financial and programmatic efforts have been quick, vertical, and HIV-specific. To achieve ambitious HIV/AIDS targets, AIDS donors mobilized health workers from weak and understaffed national health workforces. The shortages were the result of weak data for effective planning, inadequate capacity to train and pay health workers, and fragmentation and poor coordination across the health workforce life-cycle.
Ten years and billions of dollars later, the problem still persists. The time has passed for short-term fixes to health workforce shortages. As the largest source of global health resources, AIDS donors must begin to address the long-term problems underlying the shortages and the effects of their efforts on the health workforce more broadly.