As the world commemorates International Nurses Day today (May 12), the Pan American Organization is urging governments to invest in more nurses, improve their education and expand their professional role in primary health care.
The health organizations stressed that between 600,000 and 2 million 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,” said Dr Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO’s director.
According to Dr Barbosa, the investment made by countries of the Region in the health workforce to respond to COVID-19 was essential.
However, the nursing workforce “continues to face challenges related to shortages, poor distribution and inadequate working environments.”
Nurses represent 56 per cent 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, Barbosa called for a redoubling of efforts in three key areas:
- Health financing, including education and retention of nursesquality of education
- Ensuring that future nurses are well-trained
- 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,” Barbosa added.