Ebola workers are chosen by Time magazine as the 2014 Person of the Year. They are those who answered the call to help, persist, sacrifice and save, Time Editor Nancy Gibbs expounded. They wage the battle tirelessly with mercy, courage, bleach and prayer; not with shining weapons, but with hearts of heroes. The popular American magazine announced on Wednesday, not one, but a group of people – the ones who fight the Ebola epidemic, as Person of the Year.
Gibbs commended the people in the field, groups and organizations who fight Ebola – Médecins Sans Frontières, Samaritan’s Purse and many other special forces and medical relief workers who were with local physicians, nurses, health care staff and other fighters of the epidemic. Gibbs wrote that because of the Ebola workers who stand and fight, the world is able to sleep at night.
The White House is delighted, and calls the award a tribute to the selflessness and heroism of the Ebola workers. The U.S. president and the administration are proud of the brave men and women who have put their lives at stake for a humanitarian cause in a foreign land, said Secretary Josh Earnest.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease aPublic Health Emergency of International Concern. The Ebola outbreak is caused by the Ebola virus disease (EVD), known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the past. EVD is a severe, usually fatal disease in humans, which virus reportedly originating from wild animals. Now, it spreads through close contact with infected blood, body fluids and secretions. Fatality rate averages 50 percent, and ranged between 25 and 90 percent in past outbreaks. The disease already claimed more than 6,300 lives worldwide.
This year, the outbreak becomes an epidemic, reaching Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Spain, Germany and even the United States. It struck medical team members in unexpected figures, wiped weak public health infrastructures and threatened those who dare help Ebola victims to be the next hit.
When there was little to stop the epidemic from spreading fast, Gibbs said, is when the heroes came in. Governments were not ready to respond, WHO grimaced in red tape, initial responders were dubbed as crying wolf, even with soaring risks. However, the Ebola workers who are chosen by Time magazine as 2014 Person of the Year silently made their moves to help and witness real sad stories only they could completely comprehend and feel. When asked about their drive, the Ebola workers mentioned God, country and the instinct to help.
There was no doubt these people who have joined forces to fight against the epidemic also draw strength from each other. According to Liberian nurse Iris Martor, why can she not help when someone from other countries like America and Uganda come to help her people?
Time magazine named Pope Francis last year’s Person of the Year. The 2014 runners-up are Ferguson protesters, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iraq Kurdistan region’s President Massoud Barzani and Alibaba e-commerce founder Jack Ma.
MSF Operations Coordinator Henry Gray said they are happy for the recognition but will be happier when the Ebola crisis ends. The epidemic can hit anyone as the next victim, more so, with health systems that lack the needed resilience to protect the public. However, because of the fighters who go through the war to buy the world time to enhance defenses, the Ebola workers are most deserving to be chosen by Time magazine as 2014 Person of the Year.
By Judith Aparri
Photo courtesy by Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties – Flicker License