In the nearly five years since I first wrote on this website about the connection between travel and global health, there hasn’t been a tangible demonstration of what I was talking about – until now.
As the coronavirus upends both our daily lives and our travel plans, many people may be realizing for the first time that travel and health are inextricably linked. The first quarantines in history actually arose because of travelers – specifically, sailors returning from overseas voyages with both spices and diseases. Today, all it takes is less than ten hours on a trans-oceanic flight for a virus to make the leap across continents.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should permanently stop traveling. Travel is essential to the workings of the world (indeed, tourism is the lifeblood of many economies), and it makes the world a better place in countless ways. Instead of swearing off travel forever, let’s use this outbreak to remember, and appreciate, just how connected we all are.
Global health, at its core, is about connection and cooperation. Health doesn’t exist in a silo; in many ways, the health of one is the health of all. A health crisis in one country can’t be solved by that country alone, because a disease doesn’t need a passport to circumnavigate the globe.
Providing assistance – and compassion – to countries struggling with health crises, even when they’re far away and seemly unrelated to our own lives, will ultimately protect and benefit us, too.
From beginning to end, we’re all in this together.