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Keeping Ebola At Bay

The topic of this edition of the Views from the Top column was on how Asia can keep scourges like the Ebola epidemic at bay in today’s age of global travel. Achieve Group CEO Joshua Yim was quoted as follows:

“Now that the disease has spread beyond West Africa with cases reported in the US, the question is how the global community is going to go on the defensive to protect itself.

We have to do something very quickly so that the situation will not spiral into a worldwide pandemic. According to reports, the Liberian government recently closed all borders except major entry points such as its international airport. But this may not be enough.

The authorities should really consider stopping flights out of the most affected areas to help prevent the deadly disease from spreading to more countries. This is a drastic measure and while there are economic ramifications to consider, how do you argue a case for economic activity when there is a chance of putting people’s lives at risk?

We do not want to see a reprisal of the SARS epidemic from a decade ago that affected Singapore, Hong Kong and parts of China. All countries ought to be vigilant and take preventive steps to ensure that the virus doesn’t enter their country. For example, health screenings should be stepped up at every airport around the world, and all countries should conduct public awareness programmes to educate their populations about the disease.

While each country should do its part to safeguard its citizens, it is also important that individuals take personal responsibility and learn how to protect themselves, with the respective governments taking the lead in issuing comprehensive communications. The Asian SARS-affected countries have since built defensive mechanisms to help contain the spread of such infectious diseases. Perhaps the neighbours can learn from countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and China on how to be better prepared to handle an Ebola epidemic – before it hits them.”

Source : The Business Times, 27 October 2014