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Senators Introduce the African Health Capacity Investment Act of 2006

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A bipartisan group of Senators today introduced the African Health Capacity Investment Act of 2006, S.3775, a comprehensive bill to help sub-Saharan African nations confront the alarming shortage of health workers; thirteen countries on the continent have fewer than 5 physicians per 100,000 people. The United States has 549 physicians per 100,000 people.

Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) called the lack of health care workers and capacity in many African nations a "critical obstacle" in the world's fight against HIV/AIDS and a potential outbreak of Avian Flu and in promoting economic development and growth.

"With 11 percent of the world's population, 25 percent of the global disease burden and nearly half of the world's deaths from infectious diseases, sub-Saharan Africa has only 3 percent of the world's health workers." Senator Durbin said. "Personnel shortages are a global problem, but nowhere are these shortages more extreme, the infrastructure more limited and the health challenges graver than in sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We will not win the war against AIDS or any other health challenge without finding solutions to this crisis," Durbin said.

"I am very proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill as it is critical for bolstering our efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa," said Senator Coleman. "The lack of health care capacity in Africa imposes major constraints on the long term effectiveness of programs fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases. For this reason, any forward-looking, comprehensive strategy to fight these terrible diseases must include elements that build African health care capacity."

"The massive shortage of healthcare workers may be the most critical issue facing health care systems in Africa, contributing to millions of preventable deaths each year," Senator Feingold said. "I am proud of the leadership role the United States has taken in addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other global health crises. However, the resources we have invested in Africa will ultimately be fruitless unless we establish an infrastructure to ensure their effectiveness in the long-term."

"I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this worthy bill that will help millions of people in Africa get the basic health services they need. A coordinated strategy for healthcare workers would ultimately help combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic by increasing treatment and education about the disease. This, coordinated with infrastructure improvements, will also give much needed doctors and nurses access to more patients," said Senator DeWine. "In addition, these measures will help these developing nations to support economic growth and create jobs for their citizens."


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