WHO says returning Ebola health workers should not be stigmatized

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A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) health worker donning a protective suit to treat Ebola victims in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Photo: IRIN/Tommy Trenchard

The World Health Organization says that it's too early to tell if restrictions on health workers will deter medical staff from travelling to West Africa to help fight the Ebola crisis.

New Jersey is one of three states in the US that has introduced a 21-day quarantine for all health workers who have had contact with Ebola patients.

The state has refused to change its quarantine policy in spite of new federal guidelines in the US, which say that US medics returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa will be actively monitored but not placed in quarantine.

The ruling comes after a nurse was put in isolation in a tent in New Jersey, a decision that has caused outrage amongst politicians and health workers.

Australia has also been criticised for a ban on visas for West Africa.

The World Health Organization does not recommend mandatory quarantine. Tarik Jasarevic is the spokesperson for WHO.

"It's really important to balance any measure between what's perceived as protecting a population and a risk of stigmatization. We desperately need international health workers. We keep calling for health workers. They are the key to this response and these people should not be treated when coming home in a way that they would be stigmatized."  

Yesterday, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, said that returning health workers are exceptional people who are giving of themselves for humanity and that they should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on science.

Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’39″

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