Members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet in Havana, Cuba, for two days starting Wednesday to discuss coordinated prevention and emergency response efforts for potential cases of Ebola in the region.
ALBA countries – particularly Venezuela and its outspoken President Nicolás Maduro – had urged Costa Rica, which currently heads CELAC, to plan joint efforts to prevent the virus from spreading to the region.
Costa Rica’s acting Foreign Minister Alejandro Trejos on Tuesday evening confirmed the participation of all 33 CELAC members in the upcoming summit.
The Costa Rican delegation, which includes experts from the Health Ministry and the Social Security System, traveled to Cuba on Tuesday, led by the ministry’s director of health surveillance, María Ethel Trejos.
Specialists from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and officials of the Cuban Public Health Services also will attend the meeting.
ALBA countries last week agreed to outline an Ebola action plan that emphasizes prevention and assistance to Caribbean countries. They also commissioned technical experts to draft an action plan for regional health ministers by Nov. 5.
Experts at the meeting will present their countries’ strategies for containment of the virus and hold working groups to draft specific emergency response guidelines.
Four committees will focus on diagnosis, treatment, surveillance, patient management, awareness campaigns and training.
A PAHO expert with recent experience in Liberia, Africa, is in Costa Rica this week providing training to public health care workers and conducting an evaluation of country’s protective equipment.
The World Health Organization reported 10,141 Ebola cases this month in eight countries; 4,922 patients have died from the deadly virus.