Need for HIV/AIDS Volunteer Corps

A call for an HIV/AIDS Volunteer Corps comes on the heels of a recent WHO Bulletin
highlighting the appalling lack of trained staff in many low income
health posts.  “Brain drain” speaks to the pull of higher paying
jobs in developed economies, but leveling the host of incentives that
draw professionals to Europe and North America will take a long
time.  Immediate need calls for immediate action. 


…We are proposing an International Volunteer HIV/AIDS Service
Corps for Africa that will rely on a motivated volunteer in the West
who is likely to continue receiving regular salary and other
remunerations while on assignment. This volunteer will be linked
through an employer or professional association to an agency or
organization on the ground in Africa that is providing specific
services in a specific target community, country, or region. We believe
that if the opportunity exists to link a motivated paid volunteer in
the West with an effective organization on the ground, many individuals
quietly watching the unfolding tragic saga of AIDS in Africa will come
forward and volunteer to serve to the best of their abilities.

We propose an International Volunteer HIV/AIDS Services Corps that:

  1. Matches the desires of volunteers with the needs of target communities, countries, and regions in Africa.
  2. Targets countries with high rates of HIV transmission and
    those with low rates with the overall aim of preventing new infections,
    providing clinical care and support for those already infected, and
    keeping areas with low rates of infection as low as possible.
  3. Provides multidisciplinary services in chosen target
    populations, reflecting the multisectoral impact of HIV/AIDS. We
    envisage teams of volunteer doctors, nurses, public health experts,
    lawyers, engineers, economists, project managers, telecommunication
    specialists, logistic experts and other professionals working together
    with the local work force in Africa to meet the needs of chosen target
  4. Targets, in the first instance, individuals and
    organizations most likely to volunteer for service in Africa. These
    targeted volunteers will include African immigrant professionals in the
    West, Africans in the Diaspora (African Americans in the United States,
    African citizens of Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe),
    and Africanists (non Africans) that have worked or grown up in Africa.
    Recruiting efforts will eventually target all other stakeholders.
  5. Eschews bureaucracy by relying on volunteers for regular
    employment or those who can afford maintenance expenses required for
    the duration of work in Africa. We envisage in most instances, a
    three-way understanding between the volunteer, the employer based in
    the West, and the agency providing a specific service in a specific
    area of Africa.
  6. Trains local staff and volunteers during period of service
    to ensure sustainability of programs at the end of the volunteering
  7. Specifies a defined period of service, most likely one or two years in the first instance.

Technical Areas of Immediate Benefit

Africa is facing tremendous challenges in addressing preventive,
treatment and support needs of individuals at risk or living with
HIV/AIDS. An international HIV/AIDS volunteer program should assist
Africa to meet the following immediate needs:

  1. Providing health, education, and social welfare support to 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa.
    At this time, there is no organized national or regional effort to
    address the needs of AIDS orphans in Africa. A multisectoral volunteer
    team of health workers, educators, social workers, and management
    experts can assist a specific African country to meet the needs of its
    AIDS orphans.
  2. Implementing communitybased information, education, and communication campaigns against HIV transmission.
    A volunteer multisectoral group comprised of experts in health
    education and communication, journalism, consumer marketing,
    epidemiology, logistics, and monitoring and evaluation will work
    closely with local counterparts to implement HIV preventive programs.
  3. Providing clinical treatment to individuals qualified to receive antiretroviral drugs.
    A volunteer team of physicians and nurses with expertise in AIDS care
    can work with its host country counterparts to extend clinical services
    to more individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
  4. Designing and implementing micro-credit schemes for women.
    Poverty and unemployment are major factors in the rising incidence of
    HIV transmission among African women. Providing steady employment or
    nurturing the entrepreneurial spirits of women can provide incentives
    and options against trading sex for basic necessities of life or for
    feeding small children. A team of rural economists, bankers, program
    managers, and small-scale entrepreneurs will work with host nation
    counterparts to empower women, especially young widows or women who
    lost their husbands to AIDS.
  5. Revamping healthcare infrastructure. A
    volunteer team of engineers, architects, project managers, energy and
    telecommunication experts, and health workers can assist health
    authorities in host countries to revamp existing services. 

The above listing is simply illustrative. Each African country has
needs that should be matched with skill sets of the volunteers.

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One Response to “Need for HIV/AIDS Volunteer Corps”

  1. The idea of formation of HIV/AIDS volunteer corps is much welcomed and it comes at the right time when the case of infection is increasing at an alarming rate.
    The world economic crisis is an obstacle for the survival of the poor communities because less money come to the developing nations so the chance of employment will be reduce this will expose more people to life style that favour the spread of the disease. Creating HIV/Aids volunteer corps will be one of the important achievement of our times.Their task will be mobilization and sensitzation intense lobying and health education at grassroot levels combat and control HIV/AIDS.