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Funding, Health Professional Shortage Could Prevent South Africa From Reaching 2011 ARV Target, Health Minister Says

South Africa’s shortage of health professionals combined with a budget shortfall of over $130 million for the government’s HIV programs could keep the country from reaching its goal of providing 80 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDS in need of treatment with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) by 2011, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Motsoaledi said of the funding, “We have discussed it with Treasury, calculated the costs and I have already met international funders. We are waiting and hoping that there is no chance of the actual shortfall happening.”

According to Motsoaledi, an estimated 700,000 HIV-positive South African’s currently receive ARVs. “Unfortunately it is only 50 percent of the number that has been targeted,” he told Reuters. The article examines the factors contributing to the shortage of health professionals in South Africa, including trained professionals leaving the country for positions that offer higher pay and better conditions, and the low number of doctors being trained in the country compared to those needed annually.

According to Reuters, “[d]espite his overstretched budget, Motsoaledi is exploring providing ARVs to patients” earlier than when currently dispensed by public hospitals. “Waiting for people to go to a CD4 count of 200 is too low too late, maybe we should start them at 350,” Motsoaledi said (Govender, 9/15).