The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on health, life, and livelihoods in the Region of the Americas, causing a social and economic crisis marked by massive unemployment, impoverishment, and the worsening of longstanding inequities. The pandemic also exposed chronic underinvestment in human resources for health and the lack of systems with information on the deployment, makeup, and attributes of interprofessional health teams. As health systems have expanded, countries have found it difficult to hire, deploy, protect, and retain health workers, including psychosocial support for frontline workers
In 2021, WHO adopted the document Global Strategic Directions on Nursing and Midwifery 2021–2025, covering four key policy areas: education, jobs, leadership, and service delivery. Its recommendations include: 1) educate enough midwives and nurses with competencies to meet population health needs; 2) create jobs, manage migration, and recruit and retain midwives and nurses where they are most needed; 3) strengthen nursing and midwifery leadership throughout health and academic systems; and ensure that these staff are supported, respected, protected, motivated, and equipped to safely and optimally contribute in their service delivery settings.
In the Region of the Americas, nurses and midwives play an essential role in achieving health outcomes thanks to their experience, workforce size, and outreach in remote areas and among vulnerable populations and minority groups. However, challenges persist, such as scarcity (especially in remote areas), constant and increasing migration, unsafe and indecent working conditions, non-competitive wages, and lack of compliance or professional regulations.
In celebration of International Nurses Day (12 May 2022), PAHO calls for collectively strengthening the nursing workforce.