Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why No US Travel Bans from Ebola Hot Spots? They Might Make Things Worse

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why No US Travel Bans from Ebola Hot Spots? They Might Make Things Worse

Article excerpt

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) says it "makes sense." Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) calls it the "right policy." And House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio said President Obama should "absolutely consider" it.

What they want is a travel ban aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola from three West African nations. The reason they are not getting it is that the Obama administration - and many public health experts - think travel bans don't help, and instead could make things worse.

The logic behind travel bans is clear. The Ebola outbreak has become a public health crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. By banning flights to and from those countries, or by banning residents of those countries from coming the United States, politicians hope to prevent an outbreak here.

So far, three cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in the US. The first patient, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, died after being misdiagnosed at first by a Dallas hospital. The hospital's parent company apologized in full-page ads in the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Sunday. Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan have also been diagnosed and are being treated themselves.

The problem with resorting to a travel ban in an attempt to head off future cases, critics say, is that nations can't really cordon off health crises to a far corner of the globe. Instead, it's more helpful to be a part of the solution.

For example, a report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/ AIDS found that a Reagan-era travel ban on people with AIDS was "an ineffective and discriminatory anachronism of a by-gone era." Another study by Harvard University epidemologist John Brownstein found that airport closures in the eastern US in 2001 affected the flu season, but only by two weeks.

Perhaps of greater concern, travel bans can encourage travelers to lie about where they've been. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.