Doctor Shortage Leaves World Vulnerable to Outbreaks, WHO Says
A shortage of nurses, doctors and midwives leaves many countries vulnerable to new global disease outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization, which is tracking a virus that may spark a flu pandemic.
The WHO has estimated that about 35 million people will die of chronic diseases this year. This compares with a projected 2.83 million deaths from HIV/AIDS, 1.61 million from tuberculosis and 883,000 from malaria.
Those infections have caused ``unprecedented reversals'' in life expectancies in some African nations, which, the WHO says, have been cut to half those in industrialized economies.
Fatalities from illnesses such as heart problems, stroke and cancer, which account for 60 percent of all deaths, are projected to increase by 17 percent by 2015.
The usefulness of drugs and medical equipment to tackle chronic diseases and outbreaks depends on the skills of nurses and doctors on the ground, where they can innovate, reduce waste and address inefficiencies, the report said.
``The solution is not straightforward, and there is no consensus on how to proceed,'' writes Lee Jong-Wook, the WHO's director general in the report.