Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The U.S. Will Collaborate With Cuba … on Ebola


The U.S. Will Collaborate With Cuba … on Ebola



A Cuban doctor chosen to combat Ebola in West Africa posed for a picture in Havana on Oct. 21, 2014.Credit Enrique De La Osa/Reuters
After wrestling for days with the diplomatically awkward reality that Cuba could turn out to be America’s best ally on the effort to stem the Ebola epidemic, the Obama Administration has belatedly come around to a sensible conclusion: It’s willing to coordinate with the Cuban medics dispatched to treat patients in West Africa.
In a remarkably conciliatory statement, the State Department said on Tuesday night that it “welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba,” which has pledged to send hundreds of doctors and nurses to treat patients in the three countries where the virus is spreading fastest.
“Cuba is making significant contributions by sending hundreds of health workers to Africa,” the State Department said.

The Ebola outbreak has presented the two nations with a rare opportunity to work collaboratively on a high profile global issue at a time when there is growing interest on the part of both governments for a rapprochement.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro called on the United States this weekend to set aside its long term differences with Havana in order to make headway on the fight against Ebola. Cuba recently dispatched 165 doctors and nurses to Sierra Leone and a new group of 91 was set to travel to the region on Tuesday. The government has trained more than 400 health care workers on the precautions that must be taken to treat patients with Ebola.
The United States and the European Union have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build up the beleaguered health care infrastructure of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. But the international community has struggled to put together a medical corps willing to treat patients with the highly contagious virus.
The Times editorial board on Monday called on the United States to coordinate with Cuban medics and to offer them assistance in the event any contract the virus. The State Department statement did not address whether American personnel would be willing to treat or evacuate Cuban health workers. American officials say they are still sorting out the broader issue of how medical evacuations of all foreign health care workers will be handled.

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