HAVANA – Specialists and government representatives from 34 countries of the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, have outlined a coordinated “action plan” to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in the region.
The summit that brought together 278 health specialists and officials of the Americas to the Cuban capital put together a road map for the actions the region’s countries will need to take to counter the threat posed by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
An exchange of opinions on strategies against Ebola and the coordination of actions dominated the two-day summit organized by ALBA, formally the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, that invited member countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States to participate.
Among the key proposals was the establishment of a network of epidemiological surveillance in centers intended for the reception of biological samples of the virus and the treatment of infected people.
The final report of the meeting, read by Marcia Cobas, Cuba’s deputy minister of public health, proposed stimulating the development of “rapid action” trained multidisciplinary medical teams and to ensure compliance with biosecurity requirements established by the global and Pan-American health organizations.
The document recommends the creation of a National Center in the countries to tackle the Ebola threat which “systematically” updates the national and international epidemiological situation and coordinates all the preventive measures for the disease.
It also advocated strengthening control in countries with staff in affected areas or those under risk.
The acquisition of equipment for personal protection in the region, at preferential rates, and the creation of a “regional reserve” for its “immediate” distribution in case of an emergency was another of the points listed in the summary agreed to by the participants.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) director for Central America, Nelson Arboleda, said that his country will extend support to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in the actions to be coordinated in the American continent against the deadly disease.
Aboleda told the press that the CDC expected to coordinate with the PAHO for training health workers in the region in epidemiology and laboratory skills.
According to the U.S. representative, the summit was “a very rich technical experience, where we have learned about the plans of different countries,” which “has helped us as a bloc to identify the areas we need to improve in order to be more prepared in our region.”
According to the latest data of the World Health Organization, some 13,703 people have been infected with the Ebola virus since the epidemic began in March, out of which 4,922 people have died.