HAVANA – The countries belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) on Monday agreed on an action plan to combat – and protect themselves from – Ebola at a special summit at which Cuba announced the deployment of two new medical brigades to Africa to fight the epidemic.
“We’ve approved an action plan that’s going to allow us to join efforts to prevent and protect our peoples from this threat. Also, to support Cuba’s effort ... in the vanguard of support for West Africa,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the close of a meeting lasting just three hours and from which emerged a 23-point joint declaration.
In the document, the bloc – comprised of several Latin American and Caribbean nations – emphasized preventive actions such as the activation of an epidemiological monitoring network, strengthening control measures on the borders of member nations, designing public education campaigns and urging training in specialized health personnel.
The Venezuelan leader said that a “common control center” to deal with the disease would also be established along with rapid response brigades to handle health emergencies in ALBA member nations.
ALBA will hold another conference on Oct. 29-30 in Havana to formulate the action plan, which the bloc’s health ministers must have ready by Nov. 5.
Cuban President Raul Castro announced at the meeting that Havana will send two new health care brigades – 91 health professionals in all – to Liberia and Guinea Conakry to help fight the spread of the virus. Already deployed in Sierra Leone are 165 Cuban health care workers, who were dispatched there in early October.
ALBA is comprised of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela, and Haiti is a permanent invited guest of the bloc.
Also attending the Havana meeting were representatives of Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis, countries whose incorporation into ALBA has already been approved.
The Ebola virus has killed some 4,500 people – mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry – and infected more than 9,200 since it erupted in March, according to the World Health Organization.