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Travel Access Vital to Fighting Ebola

October 21, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. NGOs working on global poverty and humanitarian assistance efforts, warned leaders in Congress and the White House this week that flight restrictions could cripple the efforts of American NGOs responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of Congress and key Obama administration officials, InterAction President and CEO Sam Worthington warned that a travel ban would, “create an insurmountable obstacle to helping countries fight Ebola.”

“To beat Ebola we must be able to fly [health] workers in and out of West Africa,” Worthington said.

While the epidemic continues to worsen, NGOs are experiencing difficulties responding to such an unprecedented global health epidemic. The already limited availability of commercial flights and transportation constraints has already constrained the ability of U.S. NGOs to get staff, equipment and medical supplies to the countries in need.

A travel ban would exacerbate these challenges and worsen the already dire humanitarian situation. It also could reduce needed expertise on the front lines of the fight against Ebola, “as healthcare workers would be hesitant to deploy if they would not be able to return home,” Worthington stressed.

“Flight bans also serve to intensify feelings of isolation by the affected populations and the humanitarians deployed,” the letter continued,” as well as create fear and suspicion by the public at large.” Only two commercial airlines, according to analysis by the Global Logistics Cluster, are currently flying into the affected areas from Europe.

InterAction members are working actively with the U.S. government, regional officials and other key international organizations to respond to the unprecedented outbreak by providing a combination of clinical care, logistical support and effective community outreach. Over 30 InterAction members currently are responding to this complex crisis. Most have operated in the region for years. Some have been there since the first infection.

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has morphed into a humanitarian crisis with sweeping effects on the daily lives of millions inAfrica. The secondary economic ripple effect of the Ebola outbreak could impact countless other communities globally as the production of food, cash crops and other commodities normally produced in affected regions slows.

With effective control measures, such as community engagement and increased capacity for clinical management, the epidemic can be contained. Without the NGO community and its supported health workers on the ground treating patients in West Africa, however, it will be very difficult to end this crisis.

InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations, with more than 180 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. To learn more visit our website. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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