Joshua Michaud is the Associate Director of the Global Health Policy Team at the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent, non-partisan operating foundation that works to inform the public. He agrees with what other public health experts have been saying. “Travel bans might not achieve the goals that are set out for them. If the goal is to seal off the countries in West Africa and not allow cases of Ebola into the United States, [they] may actually make the problem more complicated and difficult.”
With hundreds of alternate routes, he worries that some infected individuals would be sneak in through other countries or faking a visa to gain entry. “Making a full-out ban is driving people underground and if they truly want to get into the United States, they would find a way.”
Micuad says that pushing people below the radar puts a significant amount of pressure on public health officials. “It’s difficult to imagine how (a travel ban) would operate sufficiently. … It would appear to exacerbate the problem rather than protect us.”
Natalie Eisenbarth, Policy & Advocacy Officer for the International Rescue Committee, says that if the goal is to protect the U.S., a travel ban is the worse possible decision. “It’s important to look at humanitarian and moral implications,” she says. “Stopping the spread of it in West Africa is in our best interest and that means getting the right people and the supplies in as fast as possible. The idea of issuing a travel ban runs against that.” On top of hindering the IRC’s ability to deliver supplies and essential medical equipment to the area; Eisenbarth says a travel ban would have a dramatic effect on people’s willingness to travel to these countries and help.