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Updated: 01/29/2014
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TECHNICAL EDUCATION IN HEALTH

The importance of the health technician in curative and preventive actions and their increasing responsibility within health systems are often quoted in documents dealing with the matter. The question is to know exactly who the texts refer, since there are different levels of education and a huge variety of titles used to designate these professionals, who represent a significant contingent of the workforce of the sector.  

Although the word 'technical' has certain specificity, its real meaning varies according to the social, political, economic and cultural contexts that define the different national educational systems as well as features that the work in health assumes in each case. Over time, each country promoted the education of assistants and technicians according to their specific needs, naming them also in a peculiar way. The result is that, if we consider the set of countries, we find distinct titrations for professionals with similar educational level or the same name applied to professionals with different backgrounds and responsibilities.  Because of the fragmentation of the criteria and concepts relating to the education and work of health technicians, has not yet been possible to establish a relatively homogeneous term.

Within RETS, the technical work in health is regarded as all that done by the group of workers who perform technical and scientific activities in the sector and ranges from activities of simpler nature performed by assistants and community health workers to those of more complex nature, performed by higher level technicians. This definition, which is not only associated with the level of education of these workers or the hierarchical position they occupy in the functional space is critical to enable joint working and exchange of experience among institutions of countries with very different realities regarding the nomenclature of technical professions, the functions that these workers perform, the knowledge they should acquire in their education, the school level in which they live and the title they get when they graduate.

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