Brain drain hurting HIV/AIDS fight— Report

Kaieteur News
January 20, 2007

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Limited trained and qualified staff to fill positions is one of the major challenges to providing and implementing HIV/AIDS programmes and services in Guyana .

This is according to the recently released Guyana National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2007-2011, which states that despite great strides being made in the fight against the disease, a number of challenges still exist for the future.

As Guyana 's economy faces more challenges, many qualified professionals have migrated to seek employment and better wages.

The document notes that this brain drain has caused significant human resource constraints for the government and undermines its ability to provide quality health, education and social services and impedes Government administration and management.

In some instances, some of the more qualified personnel in the health sector have been recruited by donor agencies.

Insufficient training opportunities were also listed as another major challenge. It was noted that no structured training and inadequate continuing education (internal and external) abound.

Although training has been provided in the past from various sources, there is also a high turnover of trained personnel.

“Trained staff is always seeking better opportunities elsewhere, leaving a constant void in services,” the document said.

Additionally, it was noted that the donor environment is very complex with many reporting procedures and requirements.

Many of these agencies have different administrative requirements for the approval and the monitoring of funds. This complicates the delivery of activities for persons working in the field, in the clinics, the non-governmental organisations and other sectors.

“They also conduct multiple planning and assessment missions, in most cases calling on the same in country staff members for assistance in the process,” the report pointed out.

It further states that work plans of the donor agencies overlap in some places and that this could lead to the duplication of efforts and an inefficient use of resources.

Additionally, if efforts are not made to harmonize and streamline the work plans it could affect the rate at which the response can be scaled up, as well as HIV/AIDS activities and services in the process, the document said.

Creating an environment free from stigma and discrimination, weakening of the health sector responses, psychosocial counseling requirements for PLWHA's and those affected are other challenges facing the sector in the fight against the disease.

With a view to long term sustainability of the National HIV/AIDS response, Guyana has already integrated the disease into its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

This initiative was also instituted as an element of sustainable development in the interest of scaling up its response.

Guyana has also taken the initiative to accelerate implementation by building a comprehensive multi-sectoral programme that combines prevention, care and treatment.

To sustain this approach, Guyana has adopted the UNAIDS sustainable strategies that emphasize sufficient resources to finance the response and where these resources are used effectively, to reverse the spread and impact of AIDS.

To remove the bottlenecks that can develop in scaling up the response a number of areas must be addressed, the report noted.

These include empowering inclusive national leadership and ownership, building human capacity, harmonising and aligning the work plan of the donor agencies, strengthening the multi sectoral response and ensuring proper accountability and oversight.