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World AIDS Day: Medical Professionals Speak Out for Their Colleagues in Africa

More than 100 Prominent Health Professionals, Including More than 30 Deans of Medical, Nursing, and Public Health Schools, Sign Letter to President Bush Urging Bold and Immediate Attention to Massive Health Worker Shortage in Africa

For Immediate Release

On World AIDS Day, PHR sent a letter to President Bush urging the US government to address the massive health worker shortage in Africa. An estimated one million additional health workers are needed in sub-Saharan Africa alone to fight AIDS and other diseases. The letter was signed by over 100 prominent US health professionals, including deans of medical, nursing, and public health schools, representing some of the country's most influential health leaders.

Many of these health experts have seen first-hand the devastation caused by the lack of health workers, medicines, and supplies in many African countries struggling with the AIDS pandemic.

The letter urges the President to "consider a five-year US initiative that offers health workforce support that will greatly expand and retain a motivated health workforce. This initiative should be new, bold, and should not take away from other foreign aid programs. A US plan should work with countries to put forth strategies to increase the number of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and community health workers trained and retained, particularly in the rural areas."

PHR Student Chapters Throughout the Country Raise Awareness, Take Action, and Speak Up to Policy-Makers

Dozens of PHR and American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapters throughout the country have organized World AIDS Day activities, including empty white coat demonstrations that symbolize the missing health workers in the fight against AIDS in developing countries. Many chapters, such as Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, are displaying empty white coats in conjunction with advocacy tables, film events, as well as other awareness raising activities.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has organized a panel discussion on HIV/AIDS care focusing on Uganda, an information table, a "phone-a-thon" to Congress and, in collaboration with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, a photo exhibit, video screening, and a lecture series. They have also hung 850 red ribbons for sale in the lobby of the medical building to signify one tenth of the 8000 deaths per day that occur due to HIV/AIDS. With each sale, they pull down one ribbon to symbolize that person's contribution to the fight against AIDS.

The PHR chapter at the University of Rochester School of Medicine has teamed up with other organizations to organize an empty white coat rally at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's office calling for continued leadership to fight HIV globally and locally. They will also host a letter-signing HIV advocacy table, a film viewing, a week-long AIDS art exhibit, and several talks including one on the global healthcare worker shortage given by Mary Adams, RN of the HIV Clinical Trials Unit HIV.

The PHR chapter at New York University School of Medicine has organized a talk by Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and arranged an exhibition of Ken Wong's Face to Face AIDS Photography Project.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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