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WHO: African nations face crisis because of health worker shortage

By: E. EDUARDO CASTILLO - Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- African countries are facing a health crisis because they lack enough medical personnel to attend to the sick, a top international health official told a summit of government ministers and researchers Thursday.

Tim Evans, the World Health Organization's assistant director-general, said Africa only has 0.8 health workers for every 1,000 people, way below the minimum of 2.5 health workers needed to "provide essential health care."

Developed countries have between 10 and 15 health employees for every 1,000 people, while Latin America, Eastern Europe and parts of Asia have between 2.5 and four workers.

"That gives some sense of the magnitude of the crisis," he said.

Ministers and experts meeting this week in Mexico were trying to find ways to increase the number of doctors and nurses in Africa.

Evans said the dearth of personnel can result in a lack of basic care and deaths that could have been prevented.

The few health workers in Africa are at risk of being recruited to developed nations, some of which also have their own health worker shortages.



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