Momentum seems to be building on Capitol Hill for some kind of West African travel ban as an anti-Ebola measure. It sounds like a simple solution. But here’s why a travel ban is pointless—or could even make us less safe.
One of the most important jobs in the world will be decided in early November: the World Health Organization’s (WHO) next regional director for Africa. With an annual budget of more than US$1 billion (about 30 percent of the WHO budget) and responsibility for “leadership in matters critical to health,” the person in charge could make a huge difference for health in Africa where much of the world’s disease burden is concentrated. However, the position has not been posted publicly and there is no independent mechanism in place to recommend, interview and evaluate the best qualified candidates.
The priority for policymakers concerned about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa should be to respond to the existing outbreak, treat the victims, and contain its spread. But the longer term lesson is that we need to be willing to spend more on global health.
This Wonkcast was originally recorded on September 2, 2014.
As the Ebola epidemic continued to spread in West Africa, with more than 3,000 cases and 1,500 deaths, I invited CGD senior fellow Mead Over, a health economist and one of the world’s top experts on the economics of HIV/AIDS, to discuss newly released maps from the World Health Organization (WHO) and measures for limiting the economic fallout from the epidemic.
On September 23, the Washington Post aired a disagreement between the US Center for Disease Control Ebola experts and the Médecins Sans Frontieres Ebola doctors regarding the value of community Ebola treatment centers staffed with community volunteers for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.