The director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, called on Monday to address the shortcomings that affect the health of the peoples of the Americas, favoring collaboration and strengthening of systems and professionals in the sector.
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During the first day of the 30th Pan American Sanitary Conference, held in Washington, United States, Etienne criticized the segmentation and underinvestment in the health system of some countries, with a consequent “acute shortage of health workers in the Americas.”
The official assured that the “achievement of our collective vision of universal health” and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 agenda require a competitive, stable and equitably distributed workforce, with better conditions and opportunities for professional development.
The continent needs between 600,000 and 2,000,000 additional health workers to reach the proposed goals, said Etienne, with the willingness to offer primary care in communities and in hard-to-reach areas.
She especially praised the sacrifice of health personnel during Covid-19, a management that caused the infection of at least 13 percent of medical personnel, with a mortality rate of two percent.
On the other hand, the expert also insisted on the deficiencies in vaccination that the continent faces, which have “set back almost three decades of progress in childhood immunization in recent years.”
Immunization rates against vaccine-preventable diseases have stagnated or regressed, and the region is witnessing the circulation of diseases that “we had already eliminated or were about to overcome,” said Dr. Etienne.
During the conference, delegates from PAHO’s 36 member nations will elect a new director for the organization, among five candidates from Panama, Haiti, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico.