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Epidemiology Societies Speak Out Against Trump Travel Ban

A call to action was issued in Science in February after President Trump's immigration ban was characterized as “a jolt across the global scientific enterprise”. Rush Holt, Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science told scientists “taking action is the best course when science is threatened or when science can illuminate public issues. Scientists should not fool themselves with the misconception that politics is dirty compared to the scientific enterprise, and they should therefore avoid the fight. Nor should scientists think that by standing back and letting the facts speak for themselves, they allow reason to prevail and proponents of flawed policies to wilt.”

The 21 member Joint Policy Committee of the Epidemiology Societies has taken action up this call to action to point out the negative effects of President Trump’s travel ban on the promotion of health and the control of outbreaks.

Among the negative consequences of the travel ban, the epidemiology group listed the following:

1. The Order prevents travel for scientists and public health officials from six predominantly Muslim countries. The order threatens to erode the collaborative foundation of science and has already adversely impacted the work of scientists in these countries.

2. The Order prevents travel of epidemiologists and scientists who are focused on eliminating suffering and death from preventable causes. The
Order may increase poor health outcomes— particularly in war-torn countries which may need the most assistance. In addition, the prevention of travel also prevents the open exchange of observations and information vital to quickly and effectively respond to disease outbreaks.

3. The Order may also adversely hamper the ability of the USA to respond quickly to infectious disease outbreaks. Having epidemiologists in the USA with the cultural knowledge of countries which may need assistance is paramount to initiating an effective first response to outbreaks before they spread further. The public’s health is dependent on a functioning scientific research community that can respond quickly and work effectively across boundaries.

4. The Order erodes basic scientific principles of trust and the open exchange of ideas. The restricted movement of scientists based solely on their national, ethnic or religious affiliation is unjustified. The ban undermines the scientific work of our IJPC-SE member societies and other professional organizations. The Order erodes the trust and partnerships the USA has with leading scientific communities around the world.

The IJPC-SE calls upon the USA to preserve the right of scientists to travel, collaborate, attend conferences, and enjoy free movement and information exchange within and throughout the USA. For a copy of the press release, visit:   ■


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