Political Prisoners of the Empire  MIAMI 5     



Havana. Nobember 3, 2014

Preparation and careful adherence to safe practices: Two crucial variables
• Participants in the technical meeting of specialists and authorities on Ebola toured the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), where the first international course on preventing and fighting the Ebola virus will take place

Lissy Rodríguez
Photos: Yaimí Ravelo

Conscious, safe practice can become synonymous with efficiency when facing the risk of one of the most serious health emergencies of recent times – the spreading of Ebola to other regions of the world.

A tour of the field hospital and observation area of the IPK made evident the preparation of Cuban specialists, and the need for full protection in compliance with security measures for personnel directly linked to the treatment of Ebola.

Led by Dr. Jorge Pérez, director of the institute, and a team of doctors and managers, technicians and specialists toured the areas of low and high risk, where arrayed are tents for medical staff access and those intended to receive patients; an area for putting on personal protective equipment; areas for suspected cases, convalescents and confirmed cases; plus a meeting room where medical personnel can be updated on patients’ condition, and other areas, all adequately equipped with both human and material resources in place.

"Doctors and nurses work in a rotating system of two or three hours with teams of six. Each tent has a name," Dr. Jorge Pérez explained, while students and professors of the institute conducted a practice drill, demonstrating how to put on and remove protective clothing, the security measures to be considered, and requirements for handling the bodies of those who do not survive.

Meanwhile, in the observation area, there are individual rooms with twin beds and the conditions necessary for the epidemiological care for asymptomatic individuals arriving from affected areas, where they are housed for the required 21-day observation period.

Here Yanet Poveda, a nurse, noted the interest shown by Cuban health personnel who today are at the forefront of the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Conakry and Liberia, having been trained at the institute

In a brief summary, the director of the institution noted the history of the center, created by Dr. Pedro Kouri in 1937, as well as the most important challenges it has faced, since its founding, in the protection of the Cuban population from infectious diseases, and collaboration with other nations, mainly developing countries.

He stressed the role of the institute in the development of biomedical sciences in general and microbiology, parasitology, clinical practice and epidemiology, and the various diseases which have been eradicated in Cuba, among which are yellow fever, malaria, polio and rubella. Furthermore, since 1998, the IPK is the National Reference Center for treatment of patients with HIV-AIDS, he reported.

The educational institute, providing diagnosis and surveillance, medical attention and scientific investigation, has graduated over 53,000 professionals between 1979 and 2013, including more that 4,000 international students from 89 countries.

For the treatment of Ebola, the IPK has trained provincial and institutional teams, as well as the medical brigades now working in affected areas, together with the World and Pan American Health Organizations (WHO, PAHO), provided consultation to the Cuban Public Health Ministry and created the center for training and the observation area.

 “We have already trained three medical brigades in clinical, epidemiological and biosecurity aspects, as well as nursing and the handling of patients”, Jorge Pérez explained to Granma.

On leaving the IPK, Nicaraguan specialist in Internal Medicine, Yester Rizo, was notably satisfied with what he had witnessed, “This has been a very important experience for us.  We have observed the organization of the Cuban health system and this serves as a starting point for us to develop a contingency plan in Nicaragua based on what we have seen here and shared with all the other Latin American countries.”

Nevertheless, far from becoming complacent, all agreed, the quality of the preparation of human resources must be subject to improvement, taking into consideration the particularities of each nation, and serve as an incentive to rigorous implementation, in order to ensure continuous improvement over time.


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