To assess maternal health training priorities for primary care human resources for health (HRH) in nursing and allied health workers in Colombia, Honduras, and Nicaragua, to inform maternal care HRH strategic planning efforts.
This Washington, D.C.–based study utilized cross-sectional survey methodology to collect country-level data. From October 2016 to March 2017, a needs assessment tool was developed by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centers. Data collection was completed by PAHO/WHO country offices, in collaboration with national health authorities and other high-level government personnel. The collected data included information on the composition, capacities, and training priorities of traditional birth attendants (TBAs), community health workers (CHWs), registered nurses (RNs), and auxiliary nurses in the three study countries; the findings were summarized in a report.
Data on the health workforce composition in the three countries indicated reliance on HRH with low levels of education and training, with limited integration of TBAs. In all three countries, management of obstetric emergencies was a training priority for RNs, and identification of danger signs was a priority for CHWs and TBAs. Training priorities for auxiliary nurses varied widely across the three countries and included health promotion, preconception and prenatal care, and obstetric emergencies. There was also a wide range in the total number of HRH across the three countries.
Reliance on health workers with low levels of training is concerning but can be mitigated through in-service training. Training priorities are consistent with the major causes of maternal mortality, and Latin America and Caribbean region training programs show promise for improving quality of care. In the long term, planning for maternal care HRH should seek to increase the concentration of health professionals that are more highly skilled