Biden launches project to train 500,000 health workers to fight disease in the Americas

The move was announced as part of the US-hosted Americas Summit, which is being boycotted by the Mexican president because Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited

The Americas Summit
Protests in L.A. outside the convention center hosting the Americas Summit.Marcio Jose Sanchez (AP)

“Disease has no respect for borders, and so we have to deal with this together.” Under this premise formulated on Tuesday in Los Angeles by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the United States is preparing to launch an ambitious health action plan for the entire region.

The initiative, called Action Plan on Health and Resilience in the Americas, will feature the creation of an Americas Health Corps with the purpose of training 500,000 public health, health science and medical professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean within the next five years, the US government announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made on the first day of the Americas Summit, which the US is hosting this year. The gathering has been in the news for weeks due to boycott threats from countries upset that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited to participate. Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador made good on his threat and will not be attending a summit that aims to restore regional relations damaged under Donald Trump, address the migration crisis and reinforce economic ties.

The health initiative comes on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a devastating human toll on Latin America and the Caribbean, taking the lives of more than 2.7 million people across the hemisphere and accounting for more than 40% of global reported deaths, the White House noted in a statement on Wednesday. “It showed us the many cracks in our global health systems and underscored the importance of strong and resilient health systems for the entire population.”

With this in mind, “today President Biden led leaders of the Americas in adopting an Action Plan on Health and Resilience in the Americas, “ said the White House statement. The plain aims to “strengthen public health and health care systems, consider how to make access to public health services and health care more equitable, and enhance pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response while increasing economic resilience in the region.”

It is hoped that the Action Plan will be “fully in effect” by 2030.

According to the White House, the Americas Health Corps “will support the expansion and training of a robust, resilient, and highly skilled workforce capable of providing health services to all segments of society. The Americas Health Corps will function as a consortium and partner with academic institutions in the United States and throughout the Americas region.”

“Our ability to exchange experiences, exchange ideas, and work together on strengthening our capacity to deliver basic health care to all of our citizens is one of the most important things we need to do,” Blinken said on Tuesday.

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