The Region’s health ministers agree to guidelines for the development of policies and plans for human resources, better worker distribution and retention, and training for family and community health specialists.

Washington, D.C., 26 September 2018 (PAHO/WHO)—Health authorities from the countries and territories of the Region of the Americas yesterday agreed on a new plan to reduce a shortfall of 800,000 health workers needed to meet the current needs of the Region’s health systems. The agreement was reached during the 56th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The Plan of Action on Human Resources for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage 2018-2023 marks the path for the countries to have the human resources they need in order to meet the worldwide goal of universal health by 2030. The plan also aims to improve the geographical distribution and skills of human resources to reach everyone, everywhere.

“Health workers are the cornerstone of health systems and this shortfall is one of the main obstacles to making strides forward in health,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “The plan approved today offers a road map to combat the scarcity of health workers and also to achieve their equitable distribution and improve their professional quality,” she added.

The plan offers guidelines for countries to develop their policies and plans for human resources for health. It proposes strengthening and consolidating the governance and leadership of health ministries so that they can forecast their present and future needs for health workers and formulate and implement long-term strategies.