The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO Regional Office for the Americas, Washington DC, is conducting a workshop for the development of a Plan of Action by Member States. This is with the aim of implementing the recently approved Strategy on Human Resources for Universal Health at the Pan American Sanitary Bureau Conference in September 2017.

This Conference is also a follow-up to a workshop in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in January 2017 where Member States of the Caribbean got together to agree on seven (7) priority areas for strengthening human resources for health to deliver universal access and universal health coverage. These priorities address important issues for Caribbean populations such as sufficient numbers of health workers, appropriate health care delivery services by education and training that produces competent health care professionals, at all levels of our health care system, but with an emphasis on in primary health care services that should reach the majority of the population.

The quantity of Human Resources for Health is at a crossroads in the Caribbean, especially, but not exclusively in nursing. However, there must be attention paid also to the availability of specialist doctors and allied professions, while at the same time ensuring that there are adequate numbers of doctors in primary care settings. It is essential that the strengthening of competencies moves ahead to contribute to the reduction of the tide of noncommunicable diseases that have become a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the Caribbean region.
In the English-speaking Caribbean, there are a number of efforts that complement and bolster the work of PAHO, such as various CARICOM frameworks and agreements, including the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) IV and the PAHO/WHO Subregional Cooperation Strategy 2016-2019. As Island States the Caribbean faces further challenges such as mobility within the Caribbean and migration outside the region. This is exacerbated by the need for policies to retain health professionals, which still remains a challenge to several countries while trying to invest in institutions that address the needs of communities.

The meeting will take place from the 18th to the 20th April at the Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados. There will be a wide range of participants in attendance from across the English speaking Caribbean, including senior officials from ministries of health, Deans of university of the West Indies as well as those from Guyana, Belize and Suriname, health planners, health technology experts, the President and founder of the first world’s free online and accredited university, the CARICOM health desk, the lead principal investigator of a Caribbean wide study on migration. The study is being conducted over a three (3) month period in CARICOM countries such as Jamaica, Belize, Suriname, Trinidad, Guyana, Turks and Caicos Islands and the English-speaking islands of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The meeting will be opened by the Minister of Health of Barbados and has significant implications for strengthening human resources for universal health in the Caribbean which will be supported by all levels of the Pan American Health Organization.

Released by PAHO/WHO Caribbean Subregional Office
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