Dr. Ferguson said the meeting follows preliminary discussions between Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and Cuban President, Raul Castro.
The Minister pointed out that following that discussion, he had initial talks with Cuba’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, “on a number of areas that we would want to have cooperation.”
Dr. Ferguson said talks with the Cuban government will focus on a number of areas, particularly the training of local health personnel.
On Monday, Cuban President Raul Castro told a summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Havana, that his country stood ready to work side by side with every country, including the United States to tackle the Ebola crisis which he says “poses a huge challenge to humanity, one that should be met with utmost urgency.”
He told the members of ALBA that “If the respective governments would agree, Cuban healthcare collaborators currently working in Latin America and the Caribbean, could support, to the extent of their capabilities, the preventive actions and the training of local personnel, as well as to offer advice.
President 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.
The countries belonging to ALBA, on Monday agreed on an action plan to combat - and protect themselves from - Ebola . The heads of government 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.
Venezuelan leader Nicolas Madurto 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.
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.
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