PAHO Welcomes US Initiative to Train Half a Million Health Workers in the Americas

LOS ANGELES, CA  - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Wednesday welcomed the United States announcement of the launch of Americas Health Corps initiative aimed at training half a million public health workers throughout the region over the next five years.

PROFThousands of health professionals are expected to be needed in Latin America and the Caribbean. (PAHO photo)“Without healthcare workers there is no resilient health system, no access to healthcare, nor preparedness for pandemics,” said the Dominican-born PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.

Americas Health Corps, which forms part of the Action Plan on Health and Resilience in the Americas aims to help the region prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemic threats and other public health emergencies, while ensuing the equitable delivery of health care services to remote, vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The aim of America Health Corps is to strengthen health systems throughout the region and to prepare for future health emergencies by improving transparency, accountability and regional coordination with governments, the private sector and civil society.

PAHO said with a current regional deficit of around 600,000 healthcare workers, primarily in rural and underserved areas, training and equipping health personnel is a key part of this initiative.

This new initiative will build on PAHO programs of work and mandates to build resilient health systems based on primary health care, strengthen essential public health functions and improve pandemic preparedness and response in the Americas. It will leverage the capacity of the PAHO Virtual Campus to reach healthcare workers throughout the region, including in remote and underserved areas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the fact that we can no longer ignore long-standing deficiencies in our health systems,” said Dr James Fitzgerald, PAHO’s director of the Health systems and Services Department.

“We welcome this opportunity to work together with the United States to equip the next generation of the health workforce in the Americas,” he added.

Last month, Dr. Etienne warned that the Americas can no longer ignore long-standing deficiencies in health systems, which impact the capacity of the health workforce to provide quality, uninterrupted care.

Among the deficiencies, Etienne cited the migration of health workers to urban centers or wealthier countries – exacerbating the gap-; lack of planning between the Education and Labour sectors; and insufficient emphasis on interprofessional and ongoing education.