Core Competencies for Public Health: A Regional Framework for the Americas
The Regional Core Competency Framework for Public Health (RCCFPH) is the result of a collective effort, led by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and deriving from a process that involved over 240 collaborators from 28 countries in the Americas Region. The Framework hopes to strategically support the countries of the Americas in strengthening the capacity of their health systems in the area of public health. The purpose of the Framework is to promote the development of master training plans for health human resources, as a strategy for the optimal performance of the Essential Public Health Functions.
An innovative aspect of this Framework, as a regional construction, is that it represents a change in focus from the logic of competencies according to professions, in the sense that the essential competencies contained in this framework do not refer to the capabilities that someone in a specific profession or role should perform, but rather together constitute the set of capacities necessary for the proper functioning of the different structures or levels (areas of practice) of health systems. In this sense, the Framework talks about competencies associated with institutions and areas of practice, not competencies associated with professions or roles.
The development of the Framework is founded within the context of the Essential Public Health Functions (EPHF) initiative, and are considered to be an integral part of the steering role function of the national health authority. For the development of the Framework, the eleven functions were regrouped into five substantive competency domains, with the addition of a sixth domain related to the international and global dimensions of public health. Based on these six substantive domains, the authors defined seven cross-cutting dimensions: planning, management, evaluation, communication, leadership, research and information and communication technology. All of this was crossed with the main areas of practice within health human resources: national health authority, decentralized management, network services management and the community level. The result provided the methodological tool for developing the core competencies based on the following question: What should health human resources know, what should they know how to do and what characteristics should they have in relation to each of the substantive public health domains? The group also took into consideration a series of values for the development of the competencies: equity, equality, social justice, sustainable development, collective health, intersectoriality, inter-disciplinary, gender equality, diversity, self-determination, empowerment and social and community participation.
The RCCFPH is not a finished product but rather part of a regional effort that intends to establish a reference point that is flexible and adaptable to diverse contexts, in order to communicate a comprehensive and coherent vision of the core competencies for public health that health human resources as a whole should possess. It is hoped that this Framework will serve as a reference point for the identification of specific competencies within particular areas of practice.