Health systems

First Global Conference on Task Shifting

8−10 JANUARY 2008 ׀ ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA -- One of the major constraints to tackling both the HIV/AIDS pandemic and global access to essential health care services is a serious shortage of health workers. At least 57 countries have a crisis shortage of health workers; 36 of those are in Africa. Task shifting is one way the public health community and national governments can address this issue head-on. Task shifting is the name given to a process of delegation whereby tasks are moved, where appropriate, to less specialized health workers. By reorganizing the workforce in this way, task shifting presents a viable solution for improving health care coverage by making more efficient use of the human resources already available and by quickly increasing capacity while training and retention programmes are expanded.

Several countries are already using task shifting to strengthen their health systems and scale up access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care. WHO, together with the US President Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), has developed global guidelines for task shifting. These guidelines were formally launched during the first ever Global Conference on Task Shifting in Addis Ababa on 8-10 January 2008. The Conference convened health ministers and other senior government officials, opinion leaders, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations from both industrialized and resource-constrained countries and concluded with endorsement of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Task Shifting

WHO global recommendations and guidelines on task shifting

  • Health worker shortages and the response to AIDS
    pdf, 505kb

    Called ‘Treat, Train, Retain’ (TTR), the plan is an important component of WHO’s overall efforts to strengthen human resources for health and to promote comprehensive national strategies for human resource development across different disease programmes. It is also part of WHO’s effort to promote universal access to HIV/AIDS services. TTR will strengthen and expand the health workforce by addressing both the causes and the effects of HIV and AIDS for health workers.
  • Task shifting to tackle health worker shortages
    pdf, 303kb

    Task shifting is the name now given to a process of delegation whereby tasks are moved, where appropriate, to less specialized health workers. By reorganizing the workforce in this way, task shifting can make more efficient use of the human resources currently available.

For more information on the Global Conference on Task Shifting, please contact Francesca Celletti, phone: +41 22 791 4403

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