Washington, DC, December 10, 1998 - The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. George Alleyne, called on the international community Thursday to protect the health of the Central Americans affected by Hurricane Mitch and sought support for a project to control and eventually eliminate cholera.
"I met just last Sunday in El Salvador with the Health Ministers of the affected countries to discuss ways in which we can assure that the health advances met last decade, for which we worked very hard, are not threatened," Dr. Alleyne said at the first meeting of the Consultative Group for the Reconstruction and Transformation of Central America. "We cannot accept a reversal in the level of health attained."
Dr. Alleyne, in the meeting Sunday, signed the Costa del Sol Declaration in which the Pan American Health Organization offered $1 million for programs to combat and prevent cholera in Central America. He said health must figure prominently in the reconstruction talks.
"There exists today the risk of a reappearance of outbreaks of infectious diseases in Central America, whether caused by the damage in some countries to the water and basic health services, limited access especially in rural areas, or the risks from crowded shelters and the movement of people between countries," Dr. Alleyne said at the meeting Thursday at the Inter-American Development Bank. "Water-borne diseases, leptospirosis, dengue, malaria, can return, but I want to put special emphasis on cholera because of the damage it can cause."
During the two-day IDB meeting, delegates from donor nations and international agencies will work out ways to help rebuild the battered Central American nations.
"Health in the decade of the 80s was considered a Bridge for Peace," Dr. Alleyne said. "We maintain the conviction today that health together with education constitutes the basics for equitable development in the 21st century."