FROM THE OCTOBER 29, 2014 ISSUE
Could Ebola Hit Latin America and the Caribbean?
Amid the Ebola outbreak, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have heightened public health protections, such as Jamaica, where the government created a "National Coordinating Team" to respond to the threat of the virus, and the United States, which despite declaring its health system is superior has had health care workers contract the disease. How well are countries in the Americas prepared to fight the spread of a disease like Ebola? Are resources to protect public health in the region being allocated in the right way? What implications would an outbreak of a disease like Ebola have in areas such as immigration policy and security? What more should aid agencies, governments, multilateral organizations and others be doing in the fight against Ebola?
Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization: "Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are better prepared for Ebola today than they were five or 10 years ago. Since 2007, PAHO/WHO member states have been working, with our organization's support, to strengthen their abilities to detect and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people's health. These improvement efforts are mandatory under the 2005 International Health Regulations, which seek to prevent and control the international spread of disease while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. In the case of Ebola, detecting an imported case promptly will depend on health workers in both the public and private sectors understanding the symptoms and risk factors (especially travel history) of the disease. An effective response consists of..." MORE
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