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  • on 23.10.2014
  • at 10:30 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

How I could have brought Ebola to Washington 0

New York — In September, I spent time with an American woman who had recently been in Lofa County, Liberia, an Ebola hot spot bordering the village in Guinea where the first case was identified. We were nowhere near west Africa; we were both attending an international conference with participants from around the world.

We had dinner together and talked afterwards until late. She had been working with Liberian youth groups who were delivering health information house to house and to religious organizations. I wanted to hear everything.

After the conference, my American-born dinner companion returned to eastern Europe, where she lives. I flew through Doha, Qatar to Washington, DC. If an immigration official had asked about my travel history – and no one did – the theoretical risk I presented would not have been revealed.

There are hundreds of such examples weekly. But the pressure to implement travel restrictions has proved irresistible – and many infectious disease specialists fear there is worse to come.

I am not in the advocacy business. But the established ethics of my profession are compatible with wanting to make a difference – through pursuing and telling the truth. The media professionals I know get up every morning wanting to do something that matters.

As Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a prize-winning, widely respected journalist who has held high positions at the New York Times, the New Yorker, CNN and National Public Radio once told a group of South African reporters: the only advocacy permitted a journalist is to respect and support the dignity of every human being.

In that spirit, I’m not reluctant to say there is strong evidence that trying to seal borders against people who may be carriers of Ebola is both futile and counter-productive.

continue reading on allAfrica

By Tami HultmanallAfrica

Photo credit: U.S. Army Africa photo/Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez

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