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"Peace Corps" approach proposed for US doctors

A program to send doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from the US to countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic was proposed recently in a report from the US-based Institute of Medicine. The proposal recommends that a group of 150 trained AIDS healthcare professionals be sent abroad to provide two years of medical service in countries throughout Africa, southeast Asia, and the Caribbean to alleviate the doctor shortage that exists in many countries. This program will be called the US Global Health Service and is modeled after the "Peace Corps."

According to the report, the scarcity of doctors ranges from one for every 3,448 people in Botswana to just one doctor for every 50,000 Rwandans. In comparison, in the US there is one physician for every 350 citizens. The US Global Health Service Plan would be run in cooperation with the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and would cost an estimated US$100 million per year. The program offers physicians many incentives to participate, including repayment of their medical school fees. The 15 countries that already receive PEPFAR funds would be the first to benefit.

The report was requested by the US State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator based on a provision of PEPFAR that calls for a program to place healthcare workers overseas in areas severely affected by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.