Travel bans complicated Ebola fight: WHO official

Travel prohibitions to Ebola-hit West African countries have undermined the fight against the pandemic that has claimed 2,500 lives, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said Wednesday.

IANS| Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014, 23:22 PM IST

Nairobi: Travel prohibitions to Ebola-hit West African countries have undermined the fight against the pandemic that has claimed 2,500 lives, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said Wednesday.

Luis Sambo, WHO's regional director for Africa, regretted that countries defied international health regulations to impose a travel ban to the pandemic hotspots, Xinhua reported.

"Travel restrictions to countries affected by Ebola have compromised the deployment of emergency assistance, including personnel and essential commodities," Sambo told a regional ministerial summit on Ebola response held in Nairobi.

Several countries have suspended air travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea following the Ebola outbreak. Neighbouring countries closed borders to restrict movement of people to and from the affected regions.

Sambo noted that travel bans contravened humanitarian law and international health regulations.

"These measures are not consistent with the recommendations of joint taskforce comprising World Health Organisation, regional ministers for health, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)," the official said. Sambo said.

He said the WHO has advised countries against the travel ban, and instead urged them to enhance their surveillance and diagnostic measures.