Dr. Paul Farmer joins fellow physicians and medical students in asking for
$8 billion for health workers

Press Conference: Saturday, March 10, 2007, at 10:00 am at the Hyatt Regency
Crystal City, Potomac Room

WASHINGTON, DC – Internationally-renowned physician and public health
activist Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners In Health (PIH) will join more than
1500 medical students and doctors from the American Medical Student
Association (AMSA) and the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) to press for
Congressional funding to overcome the critical shortage of health workers in
Africa and to combat the ever-growing public health crisis in a region
devastated by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. AMSA, NPA and PIH are asking
for a commitment of $8 billion over five years, based on World Health
Organization (WHO) cost estimates for health worker training and retention

“As healthcare workers and advocates, we cannot turn our backs on an entire
continent,” says AMSA President Jay Bhatt. “We call on Congress to keep the
promises our country made to fight AIDS in Africa.”

The groups are pushing for rapid passage of and increased funding for the
African Health Capacity Investment Act. This bipartisan bill, sponsored by
Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Russell
Feingold (D-Wisc.), was introduced during the week of the AMSA rally at the
Capitol on March 8th, 2007. The proposed legislation authorizes funding for
sub-Saharan African countries to train and retain doctors, nurses,
pharmacists and community health workers critical to lessening the burden of
AIDS. “Investing in health workers brings us closer to realizing the full
potential of the commitments the U.S. has made to fighting global AIDS,
malaria and tuberculosis,” said Bhatt.

The WHO estimates a dearth of 1 to 1.5 million health workers in sub-Saharan
Africa; this shortage is the major bottleneck in the fight against the AIDS
pandemic, hindering such worldwide efforts as the President’s Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and

“Study after study has shown that most health professionals want to stay in
their country of origin, but find it impossible to do so because of low
wages, inadequate resources and little opportunity for advancement.” Says
Lydia Vaias, NPA president. One sub-Saharan African nation, Ghana, has lost
69% of physicians, 25% of nurses and 42% of pharmacists which it graduated
between 1993-2002. Vaias continues, “To change this deadly situation, we are
bringing physicians out of the hospital and into the streets, straight to
the capitol.”

“Withholding care is not a matter of necessity; it’s a choice,” states Paul
Farmer of PIH. “Programs like those that Partners In Health supports in
Haiti, Rwanda and Lesotho have shown that effective health-worker training
and health care delivery are possible even in the most resource-poor areas.
Whether hundreds of millions of people will live or die is now a matter of
political will.”

Paul Farmer is the co-founder of Partners In Health, an organization whose
goals are to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in
need and to serve as an antidote to despair.

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), with over a half-century
history of medical student activism, is the oldest and largest independent
association of physicians-in-training in the United States.

The National Physicians Alliance (NPA) was founded to restore physicians'
primary emphasis on the core values of our profession: service, integrity,
and advocacy.