Erin Russell is Assistant Editor at CMAJ, currently attending the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) in New Orleans
Along with CMAJ's editorial fellow, Moneeza Walji, I'm navigating my way through the more than 1,100 sessions on relevant public health topics that are on offer at the APHA conference this week. Yesterday I attended a session on the Ebola epidemic. Prior to coming to New Orleans, I was disappointed to hear that the State of Louisiana had issued a rather prohibitive public health advisory. The advisory calls on individuals who have traveled to the Ebola affected countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, or who may have been exposed to Ebola virus in the previous three weeks, not to travel to New Orleans. This, despite the CDC’s assurance that 1) Ebola can only be spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids and 2) people with Ebola cannot spread the virus until symptoms appear.
My first instinct was to blog about my frustration with fear-based policies; my disappointment that the state felt the need to over-rule the judgement of the APHA and its members; and my outrage that the 13,000 APHA conference delegates were being deprived of our right to learn about this major international public health crisis from those with first-hand knowledge of the situation. Fortunately, I didn’t get a chance to write that emotional knee-jerk reaction blog.
The APHA’s response to the State-imposed travel ban was much more diplomatic.
In it, Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the APHA, acknowledged the APHA’s disagreement with the policy, their efforts to communicate their concerns to state and local leaders and their recognition that State has the best interests of the people of Louisiana [and 13,000 APHA conference delegates] at heart. The APHA has also made available pink ribbons ...continue reading