The United States welcomed Tuesday the chance to cooperate with its old Cold War rival Cuba in the fight against Ebola, a State Department source told AFP.
“We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba to confront the Ebola outbreak. Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa,” the source told AFP.
Secretary of State John Kerry has urged all countries to join the fight against the outbreak, which has killed more than 4,500 people in West Africa and stoked fears it could spread beyond thethree worst-hit countries and become a global threat.
“In that spirit, the U.S. Department of State is communicating with all members of the international community, including Cuba, involved in this global effort through multilateral channels such as the World Health Organization, as well as diplomatic briefings,” the source said.
In Havana on Monday, Cuban President Raul Castro opened the Ebola summit — the first of its kind in Latin America — warning his fellow leaders that “a terrible epidemic is spreading among our brother peoples in Africa and threatens us all.”
“If this threat isn’t stopped in West Africa… it can become one of the most serious pandemics in human history,” said the communist leader.
Twelve Latin American and Caribbean countries then agreed to tighten border checks to stop Ebola from spreading to the region and draft an action plan to deal with the epidemic.
Cuba – a country the size of Portugal with a population of just 11 million — has sought to place itself at the forefront of the international response to the Ebola epidemic, sending 165 doctors and nurses to Sierra Leone to combat the disease.