In order to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries, less qualified health workers should be used to deliver care in areas where there are severe shortages of doctors and nurses, the World Health Organization (WHO) said January 8, reports the Agence France-Presse (, 1/8).

The organization called for “task shifting,” which will give health workers with fewer qualifications greater ability to treat patients.

“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.”

According to the WHO, at least 57 countries (mostly in Africa) currently face shortages of health workers to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. About 4 million more health workers are needed worldwide.