Belize, 20 February 2019 (PAHO)- A new plan to increase health workers and improve their efficiency and distribution in order to respond to the health needs of the population, was launched today by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other partners.

The Strategic Plan on Human Resources for Universal Health 2019-2024 establishes a roadmap to ensure that health workers have the right profile and competencies; are available where and when they are needed; and are motivated to provide quality care.

“This strategic plan is a significant milestone for the sector,” and represents a “change in mindset” that values health personnel and public investment in this area, said Ramón Figueroa, Chief Executive Officer of the Belize Ministry of Health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2035, there will be a shortage of 12.9 million health workers around the world, which will have serious implications for the health of millions of people. PAHO estimates that in the Americas, 800,000 additional health workers are required to meet the current needs of the Region’s health systems.

“health personnel is a critical component for enabling health services and systems to function and ensure access to care"

The plan for Belize highlights inequalities in the availability, distribution and quality of health workers. It mentions that there is a shortage of personnel, unequal distribution, a need to improve skills and competences, low retention and low motivation, as well as an issue of migration, which makes the progressive expansion of health services challenging.

The Director of PAHO’s Department of Health Systems and Services, Dr. James Fitzgerald, congratulated the country on the development of the Plan, which is aligned with PAHO and WHO frameworks and seeks to respond to current and future needs regarding human resources in health. Dr. Fitzgerald also stressed that “health personnel is a critical component for enabling health services and systems to function and ensure access to care.”

The Plan establishes five strategic objectives and activities that will consolidate Ministry of Health leadership. It will focus on: the creation of a human resources unit within the health Ministry of Health; the training of personnel; skill profiles, employment and better working conditions; standardized education and professional practice; as well as the distribution of personnel according to the needs of the population and the goal of universal health.