Saint Lucia: Americas Health Corps (AHC), a new initiative to facilitate the training of 500,000 public health professionals over the next five years, was presented today at a side meeting of the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference. AHC aims to address gaps in quality and competency to meet priority needs, particularly in primary health care.
The initiative was presented to ministers of health and other health leaders by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Carissa F. Etienne, and the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.
Chronic under investment and the sustained fragmentation of health systems in the Americas have led to a deficit of between 600,000 and 2 million healthcare workers, an issue compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without a health workforce that is adaptable, trained and fit for purpose, the Region of the Americas will remain highly vulnerable to the impact of public health emergencies,” Dr Etienne said.
Americas Health Corps aims to address this challenge by increasing the availability of well-trained and qualified health workers, building future leaders in health governance and public administration, and ensuring private sector engagement in supporting the development of health workers.
It will also use PAHO’s Virtual Campus to expand digital learning for public health in the Americas and support the creation of a consortium of academic centres in public health.
Americas Health Corps will constitute “a strong and capable health workforce familiar with the entire region and can be deployed to countries in times of crisis without encountering the bureaucratic and administrative hurdles that slowed down the response when we saw COVID-19,” Xavier Becerra said.
The initiative will also facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan on Health and Resilience in the Americas, which was adopted at the IX Summit of the Americas in June 2022. This plan aims to expand equitable access to quality health services, strengthen training and education, increase public financing for health, improve emergency preparedness and accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Thanking healthcare workers for their “unwavering resilience” during the pandemic, the PAHO Director highlighted that countries in the region saved lives by moving healthcare workers to where they were most needed, expanding the delivery of telemedicine services, and increasing hospital capacity three-fold in some cases.