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Reducing shortages of nurses key to better respond to coming pandemic

Washington, May 12 (Prensa Latina) The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Friday called for greater investment to ensure the Americas has the nursing personnel necessary to better respond to the next health emergency.

On International Nurses Day, PAHO reported that between 600,000 and two million more health care professionals, including nurses, are needed to meet the health needs of the population of the Americas.

A well-educated, skilled and equitably distributed workforce is critical to building resilient health systems, meeting population health needs and better preparing for future threats and pandemics,” PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said. The PAHO Director highlighted the fundamental role played by health care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and acknowledged those who lost their lives.

However, the nursing workforce “continues to face challenges related to shortages, poor distribution and inadequate working environments.”

Nurses represent 56% of the total health workforce in the Americas, making them the mainstay of health services.

According to recent estimates, Latin America and the Caribbean has around 44.3 nursing professionals per 10,000 inhabitants, lower than the estimated 70.6 per 10,000 needed to meet the United Nations goal of universal health access and coverage by 2030.

To address the future needs of health systems, the PAHO Director called for a redoubling of efforts in three key areas: health financing, including education and retention of nurses; quality of education, to ensure that future nurses are well-trained; and expanding the professional role of nurses in primary care to reduce gaps in coverage and access.

“On this International Nurses Day, let us join efforts to work together to recover stronger and better from Covid-19, and make the necessary investments for the development of the health workforce throughout the Region of the Americas,” Dr. Barbosa said.


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