OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE

The global epidemiological situation – an example of which is the Ebola epidemic currently afflicting various countries in Central and West Africa, which has been classified as a global emergency by the World Health Organization – demonstrates the danger the world is currently facing and the need to adequately prepare countries to combat this and other possible future epidemics. This is what Dr. María Guadalupe Guzmán stated on October 13, after inaugurating the Eighth National Microbiology and Parasitological Conference; the Fifth National Tropical Medicine Conference and the Fifth International Seminar on HIV/AIDS Infection in Cuba, which will run through October 16. The President of the event organizing committee and Cuban Microbiology and Parasitological Society, stated, "Human resource training, research, scientific exchange, communication, information and the application of technological advances, are fundamental pillars for countries to effectively deal with these contingencies." This event is therefore an important opportunity to share the most up to date knowledge on infectious diseases and emerging, remerging and forgotten parasites; ways to combat them; and research priorities. "It will enable us to establish new initiatives and strengthen the means of their control, knowing that infections occupy a prominent place among the primary causes of morbidity and mortality in the world due to, among other reasons, climate change, catastrophes, armed conflicts, poverty, malnutrition, hygiene problems and the emergence of pathogens resistant to drugs," highlighted Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda, Cuban deputy minister of Public Health. Representative of the Pan American Heath Organization (PAHO) in Cuba, Dr. José Luis di Fabio explained to Granma that there are three crucial and necessary topics of debate. "In Cuba for example we are discussing changes in the demographic situation, with a progressive trend of aging and of transformations in the epidemiological sphere, specifically in regard to chronic non-transmittable illnesses. The mortality rate of infectious diseases is less than 1% and it therefore seems that these have been forgotten." "But when we have to combat cases of cholera and dengue throughout the Americas, and other illnesses such as Chikungunya, 2 million cases which have been reported in the Dominican Republic, for example, or a epidemic such as Ebola, it is necessary to continue working on and researching transmittable illnesses, which in general affect the most vulnerable communities." According to Dr. Marcelo Galas, head of the Bacteriology Department at the Buenos Aires Nation Institute of Infectious Disease, reference center for bacteriology in Argentina - which also coordinates many of the networks throughout Latin America in specific areas - treating emergency patients in a comprehensive way is essential. He stated that "Latin American countries are making an enormous effort together with the PAHO. We have strong networks and alert systems. When a country has a health emergency, it will notify the rest of Latin America. Excellent collaboration exists and has been developed above all in recent years." "Latin America always looked outward to the world, to the United States and to Europe. Now we are increasingly helping each other," he stated.