ABC Examines Shortage Of Medical Workers To Provide HIV-Positive Children In Lesotho With Treatment

ABC’s “World News” on Monday examined how a physician shortage in Lesotho is hindering efforts to provide HIV-positive children in the country with treatment. There are six pediatricians in Lesotho to serve a population of 800,000 children, including an estimated 18,000 children who are living with HIV, “World News” reports. Most of the pediatricians are U.S. citizens working in Lesotho at a clinic operated by the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. According to “World News,” the government of Lesotho pays for medical students to leave the country for training if they agree to return after graduation, but many students take jobs in South Africa or Europe and do not return.

Projects led by the Baylor clinic and the Clinton Foundation have helped increase the number of HIV-positive children in Lesotho with access to antiretroviral drugs from 600 a few years ago to more than 1,000 currently, but the shortage of medical workers has complicated efforts to administer the drugs. Pediatrician Lineo Thahane said, “We have the medications. They are distributed throughout the country. What we need are people who are comfortable administering those medications to children.”

Women typically stay with their children in the hospital to care for them and administer drugs because there are not enough medical workers, according to “World News.” Physicians with the Baylor clinic also are working to train more physicians and nurses to administer antiretrovirals (Snow, “World News” Web site, 9/3). Video of the segment and expanded ABC News coverage are available online.

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