maternal-nurse-2017Washington, D.C.,  (PAHO/WHO), July 2017.  Peventable pregnancy and childbirth-related complications take the lives of 830 women per day worldwide, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries (1).  There have been significant advancements in maternal and child health in the Region of the Americas, where maternal mortality rates have dropped over 40% in the past 20 years. However, these advances do not affect all women equally (2). Currently, pregnancy-related deaths are three times higher in mothers in the Region's indigenous communities than compared to mothers in the general population (2).

In recognition of this situation, the Department of Health Systems and Services and Human Resources for Health (HSS/HR) is implementing the Training of Human Resources for Health to Improve the Quality of Maternal Health in Latin America and the Caribbean project in collaboration with the PAHO Collaborating Centers in Nursing and Midwifery in Brazil, Chile, and the United States.  This project is funded by Global Affairs Canada as part of the Integrated Health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean initiative (2016-2019).

The aim of this project is to increase the number of healthcare workers trained competently in maternal health. The ultimate outcome is to improve the health of mothers living in situations of vulnerability in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Peru and Nicaragua.    

A part of this project, HSS/HR has conducted needs assessments to evaluate the training needs of human resources for health, who play an integral role in delivering maternal health care-such as midwives, nurses and community health workers. The countries assessed are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.

To design a training program for human resources for health, the project has identified training priorities among human resources for health at the facility and community levels. At the facility level, the priorities were emergency obstetric care, referral, attending uncomplicated pregnancies, and prenatal care. At the community level, the priorities identified included recognition of signs and symptoms of complications during pregnancy and health promotion. At both levels, several training priorities were identified, including breastfeeding education, family planning, preventative measures for HIV, malaria and tetanus, and professional ethics.

The identification of these priorities enabled the development of a training course, Train the Trainers, utilizing both in person and virtual mediums. This course will begin in August 2017, with a week-long training in Managua, Nicaragua for participants from Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This will be followed by a 12-week virtual course on PAHO's Virtual Campus for Public Health. In 2018 it will be developed the same training course to participants from the others countries.


(1)    World Health Organization. (2015). Maternal mortality. Retrieved from
(2)    The World Bank. (2013). Latin America: Unequal access to health care is still no. 1 killer for moms and kids. Retrieved from


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Links of interest
Integrated Health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative (2016-2019)