HEALTH

Ebola prompts a regional summit in Cuba, ALBA nations to draft a common strategy

In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, enters a tent during a practice drill at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's health ministry is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay for six months. (AP Photo/Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate)

In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, enters a tent during a practice drill at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's health ministry is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay for six months. (AP Photo/Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate)  (ap)

Cuba is hosting a meeting of health ministers and some heads of state from Latin America Monday to come up with a plan for addressing the Ebola outbreak in the region.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, who arrived in Cuba on Sunday, was among those expected to attend the meeting, a special summit convened by the ALBA coalition.

Among the ALBA countries who have sent leaders or officials are, besides Venezuela, Haití, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, as well as international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.

A goal of the Cuba meeting is to draft joint measures that will help the participating Latin American countries lessen the risk of exposure to Ebola through travelers, the Miami Herald reported.

Although Venezuela is struggling with shortages of medical supplies, the nation has been taking steps to fight the Ebola virus, spending more than $4 million to buy 1,500 biohazard suits as well as other materials. The country also is preparing about two dozen hospitals to handle people infected with the virus, the Herald said.

Other Latin American countries already have taken steps to deal with travelers who could be at risk of carrying the virus.

Colombia has taken a particularly strict approach, denying visas to people who recently have visited Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria or Senegal.

Colombia also is screening people for Ebola risk from nearly 100 countries who are exempt from needing a visa to be admitted into the nation, the Miami Herald reported.

Peru and Brazil have quarantined people arriving from West Africa; they were later released after it was determined they did not have the virus.

Caribbean government officials are planning strict steps, including trying to dissuade its citizens from traveling to countries hit by Ebola.

Belize issued a ban Friday on visas to persons from West African countries.

In an article published Saturday in Cuba's Communist Party daily Granma, former leader Fidel Castro said that Cuba stands ready to cooperate with the United States in the battle against Ebola.

Cuba is sending about 460 doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight Ebola, an effort that was praised on Friday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. is sending hundreds of soldiers to set up clinics and train health care workers and it also has sent officials from the Centers for Disease Control to help in training.

"With pleasure we will cooperate with U.S. personnel in that task," the 88-year-old ex-leader wrote in the. He said it would not be to seek peace between two countries long at odds, but "for the peace of the world."

He noted that Havana's hosting of the Monday meeting is meant to raise more support for the fight against Ebola.

He said such medical cooperation is "the greatest example of solidarity that a human being can offer."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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