HealthCorps to Train Health Professionals in Latin AmericaBy Rodrigo Andrade | Fri, 06/10/2022 - 17:51
US-based ONG HealthCorps will train 500,000 health professionals alongside the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) primarily due to COVID-19 consequences. HealthCorps will work as a middleman with academic institutions around the US to train these professionals.
The “Americas Health Corps–Fuerza de Salud de las Américas” is expected to benefit several countries in the region, which lacks about 600,000 healthcare workers, primarily in rural and underserved areas, according to PAHO.
“Without healthcare workers there is no resilient health system, no access to healthcare, nor preparedness for pandemics,” said Carissa Etienne, Director, PAHO.
It is still undetermined which countries will benefit from this initiative. Mexico has a large gap of medical specialists and needs 154,786 doctors to achieve OECD’s recommendation of 3.2 specialists for every 1,000 citizens, as reported by MBP. Mexican health officials have mentioned that specialists are urgently needed in Veracruz’s rural areas such as la Huasteca, Montaña and Papaloapan-Olmeca. The lack of health professionals is a critical problem for those living in this region, especially because the area lacks pediatricians. Mexico has on average 2.8 doctors and specialists per 1,000 habitants but this number hardly explains the reality in different corners of the country. For example, Mexico City has an average of 4.7 doctors per 1,000 habitants, while Chiapas has only 1.2 doctors.
HealthCorps and PAHO’s initiative aims to fill healthcare gaps that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected millions in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region saw an estimated 2.7 million deaths, representing 40 percent of global deaths. The World Health Organization, however, warned that the number of total deaths might be higher as the previous figure represents only those officially registered by the proper organizations.
“The pandemic has laid bare the fact that we can no longer ignore long-standing deficiencies in our health systems,” said James Fitzgerald, Director of the Health systems and Services, PAHO.
The program was announced by the US White House just hours before US President Joe Biden would address the Summit of the Americas, which was shrouded in controversy due to the absence of several heads of state, such as Mexico's.