Amid the chaos of potential Ebola cases among citizens of the United States, there have been calls to respond in a meaningful way to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.
This was exacerbated by the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, who travelled from Liberia to the United States and eventually died in a Texas hospital.
Then two hospital workers who had had contact with Duncan while he was in the Houston hospital also contracted the disease, one only confirming this after she had made a flight to Cleveland, Ohio.
Over 160 people have now been identified as possible contacts during the contagious period of each patient’s sickness, and are being screened by the CDC for possible contamination.
Eleven have been confirmed to have been in direct contact during this time.
It is obvious what steps are needed to be taken in order to mitigate this US domestic problem. Quarantine all potential cases as a US national security measure, and only claim safety when there have been no new identified cases for several weeks.
The problem in West Africa, however, is a completely different issue.
International efforts to mitigate the problem have been largely impotent, as local customs and poor domestic medical infrastructures have allowed the disease to spread readily through Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and a fewer number of cases in Nigeria and Senegal. As Americans, what should we be asking for?
Mercyhurst professor, David Dausey, Ph.D., has been asked by many, including USA Today, CNN and BBC News, what the US should do. He claims that the current method of allowing international travel is a grave mistake, and reverting the responsibility of screening individuals for the virus to the international airline community is insufficient to mitigate its spread.
In the same way that the countries neighboring those affected by Ebola have closed their borders, the US should halt all direct travel from all countries, which are at risk (acknowledging first that there are no direct flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea, the hardest hit of all the countries).
Even further, the US should implement stringent travel restrictions and medical screenings for international airports around the globe.
This is, of course, only going to limit the potential cases in the US.
However, in addition to these efforts, the US, with help from the international community, needs to create a comprehensive aid program which addresses the inadequacies of the West African countries’ epidemic response and allows those countries to conduct as much safe business as possible, so as to not cripple their economies further.
Dausey has already promoted the Western (including US) militaries to be the primary drivers of this aid, as they have both the logistical resources and access to technical and medical complements which can stop this epidemic.
I do not put the sole responsibility on the US, but current media responses focusing on the problems of the CDC are incongruent with the scale of the problem, which affects the world community at large.