Healthcare workers in Sub-Saharan Africa and the risk of acquiring immunodeficiency virus: Let’s build a better environment

Document Type

Review Article


General Surgery (East Africa)


Healthcare workers are at the forefront in the fight against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and confront the risk of acquiring accidental transmission of virus. Not only the professionals who are working in HIV-prevalent areas, but their entire families are at risk and need to get appropriate attention by the employers. The region most devastated by the HIV is sub-Saharan Africa. It accounts for two-thirds of the world\\\'s HIV cases and nearly 75 per cent of deaths due to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) despite the fact that the number of people in countries receiving antiretroviral treatment jumped ten-fold in five years to 4 million, and HIV infections dropped 17 per cent from 2001 to 2008. The epidemic continued to outpace the response, with five new infections reported for every two people receiving treatment. This review is meant to highlight the responsibilities of professional bodies, societies and organisations which are either ignorant or have remained unaddressed. The recent 14-point recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with International Labour Organization (ILO) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has described the basic rights of healthcare workers (HCW) who are active at the cost of possible risk to their lives. The new vision is zero new infections; zero discrimination; zero immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related deaths is only possible if we keep all the HCWs safe and comfortable, so that they can deliver the best of what they can to fight this potentially deadly endemic.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Journal Of Pakistan Medical Association