Washington, United States (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling for more nurses in the Caribbean and the Americas to be trained to provide skilled care.
PAHO said it is also urging that steps be taken to address what it described as inequities in nurse distribution and the problem of out-migration.
“Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean currently face shortages of nursing personnel, presenting an obstacle to achieving the goal of universal health access and coverage for all people in the Americas,” PAHO said.
PAHO”s regional advisor on nursing and health technicians, Silvia Cassiani, said nurses are “an important human resource for health”.
He said that nursing personnel make up 60 per cent of the health workforce and cover 80 per cent of health care needs.
“We have to do much more to train more professionals, to make sure they are distributed equitably according to the needs of the population, and to retain them in their workplaces,” she urged.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 23 doctors, nurses and midwives are needed for every 10,000 inhabitants to provide essential health services.
In the Americas, WHO said about 70 per cent of countries have the number of personnel they need, or even more, “but they face challenges in their distribution and training”.
It said out-migration has a “major impact on nursing human resources”, and that the number of nurses from the English-speaking Caribbean who are working abroad is estimated to be three times the number of those working in the countries where they were trained.
PAHO lamented that about 42 per cent of nursing positions in the English-speaking Caribbean are vacant due to out-migration.
“Establishing mechanisms to improve workforce retention and working conditions in public health services are among the measures that can reduce out-migration of health workers.”