Twelve Caribbean and Latin American countries agreed to tighten border checks to stop Ebola virus from spreading to the region and draft an action plan to deal with the epidemic.
"We agreed to coordinate our efforts to prevent Ebola and deal with the epidemic," said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the close of an extraordinary summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Cuba.
AdvertisementThe leftist regional bloc adopted a 23-point response to the outbreak, which has not spread to Latin America, despite several false alarms, but has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The measures include increased security at ports and airports and marching orders for the group's health ministries to develop a regional Ebola action plan by November 5.
Health experts from the region will meet in Havana on October 29 and 30 to draw up the plan.
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.
"African blood runs in our veins," he added.
Cuba 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.
Castro announced another group would leave Tuesday for Liberia and Guinea.
UN sources said there would be 90 doctors and nurses in the new deployment. Cuba has pledged to send a total of 461 health professionals to combat Ebola.
The ALBA summit came on the same day European foreign ministers met in Luxembourg on the epidemic, calling for a "united, coordinated and increased effort" to contain the outbreak.
Founded by late socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, ALBA has nine member states: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Haiti, Grenada, and Saint Kitts and Nevis also joined Monday's summit.
The UN coordinator on Ebola, David Nabarro, and the director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, also took part.
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