The joint PAHO/WHO ILO UNAIDS policy guidelines for improving health workers' access to HIV and TB prevention, treatment, care and support services
ILO, UNAIDS, and PAHO/WHO, given their complementary mandates and long standing collaboration on occupational health, HIV and TB, are working together to find common solutions to HIV and TB challenges for health workers.
The health sector is responsible for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of illness and can contribute to reducing stigma and discrimination in the context of health services. Countries must protect the health and rights of their health workers by optimizing their working conditions. By protecting health workers, countries would ensure that those providing health services are themselves healthy. This will in turn facilitate people's rights of access to quality health services.
A key challenge in maintaining strong health systems was identified in the World Health report, 2006 as the recruitment and retention of qualified health workers. As defined in the ILO-PAHO/WHO joint guidelines on health services and HIV/AIDS, 2005, health workers are "all people engaged in actions whose primary intent is to enhance health." They include all those persons who provide health services, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians. Also included are management and support workers, such as finance officers, cooks, drivers, cleaners and security guards. Health workers include not only those who work in acute care facilities, but also those in long term care, community-based care, homecare and informal caregivers.