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Can J Public Health. 2016 Dec 27;107(4-5):e347-e354. doi: 10.17269/cjph.107.5564.

Capacity building in human resources for health: The experience of the region of the Americas.

Author information

International Consultant, Human Resources for Health (HRH); Head, Unit of HRH at PAHO, 2003-2014, Washington, DC.



Since the year 2003, most countries of the Region of the Americas have experienced sustained economic growth and inclusive development policies. In the health sector, achieving universal access became the overarching goal. However, the structural limitations of the health workforce represented a formidable obstacle to change. National Health Authorities were confronted with the challenge of developing critical capacities to redress entrenched inequalities in access to qualified health personnel.


Under the auspices of the Pan American Health Organization, the Ministers of Health of the Region adopted, in September 2007, twenty regional goals for Human Resources for Health 2007-2015, aligned with the renewed strategy of Primary Health Care. Subsequently, a set of indicators and a methodology were developed to assess the goals and to monitor progress at the country level.


Fifteen countries carried out a baseline assessment in 2009 or 2010 and conducted a second assessment in 2013. Although differences were noted across goals and between countries, the results suggested improvements in all twenty goals overall. The goals linked to the distribution of personnel, the management of migration, and the cooperation with education institutions appeared to be more resilient to change.


The twenty Regional Goals for Human Resources for Health provided a common vision for action and a framework for cooperation within and among countries, and was a catalyst for change. Faced with evolving challenges, the countries should consider adopting a new shared agenda that builds on progress made and further supports intergovernmental policy alignment and capacity building in health workforce development, governance and management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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