At the initiative of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, on Oct. 20 heads of state from the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas—Peoples’ Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP), along with health agencies and professionals, representatives of the United Nations, the Pan-American Health Organization and the Organization of East Caribbean States, met in Havana to chart an action plan to help confront the Ebola epidemic in Africa and prevent its expansion to other regions.
In his opening remarks, Cuban President Raúl Castro underscored the urgency of action: “I stand convinced that if this threat is not held back and resolved in West Africa, through an immediate and effective international response, with sufficient resources and coordinated by the World Health Organization and the United Nations, it may evolve into one of the gravest pandemics in the history of mankind.” (albatcp.cubaminrex.cu)
Prefacing a 23-point action plan, the meeting’s final document noted “concern that the international resources required in order to undertake rapid and efficacious actions to deal with the Ebola epidemic are continuing to be insufficient to confront what could become one of the most serious pandemics in the history of humanity.” And in taking action, it reaffirmed “that ALBA-TCP is sustained on principles of solidarity, true cooperation and complementarity among our countries, and commitment for the most vulnerable peoples and to the preservation of life on this planet.” (albatcp.cubaminrex.cu)
The plan includes an Oct. 29-30 technical meeting of specialists and directors in ALBA-TCP countries to exchange experiences and knowledge, and to draw up prevention and control strategies for the threat of the Ebola epidemic. The ALBA-TCP health ministers are charged with drawing up an action plan to be presented to the ALBA-TCP heads of state and government for immediate application by Nov. 5 at the latest. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States will be asked to promote regional efforts.
The document noted, as a priority, “the special needs of our sister countries in the Caribbean that would allow them to benefit from the cooperation for preventing and confronting Ebola that are agreed to by the ALBA-TCP countries.”
Considerable contributions to fight the Ebola epidemic have already been made, including the dispatch of Cuban medical teams to the African continent and a donation of $1 million offered by Bolivian President Evo Morales during the meeting, in addition to Venezuela’s $5 million contribution presented to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Oct. 16.
Venezuelaanalysis.com reports the meeting “was attended by representatives of member countries Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia. Haiti was also represented as a permanent invited guest of the bloc, as well as Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis, whose incorporation into ALBA has already been approved.” (Oct. 21)