TIME magazine’s Person of the Year tradition began unceremoniously in the 1920s when a slow news week prompted the publication to think outside of who was the person of the week. Since then, the magazine’s yearly declaration of who most shaped the news, for better or worse, has become an anticipated capstone to summarize the key story of the year. This year’s choice, The Ebola Fighters, resonates with PCI.
The Ebola virus crippled West Africa and sent out a ripple of fear as the world grappled with how to contain the deadly disease. As cases popped up outside of the three countries hardest hit, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, fear spread and the people who had gone abroad to fight the disease were facing new restrictions when they came home; isolation, quarantine, and ever-changing protocols to name a few.
But they continued to fight.
“The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight,” said TIME’s managing editor Nancy Gibbs. “For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year.”
Our involvement in the Ebola fight began as a transition of time and resources. We were already in Liberia working to improve the health of communities when the spring Ebola outbreak hit. Our team had been establishing trust with people in Bong and Nimba counties and decided, instead of fleeing when crisis came knocking, to combat the spread of disease by aiding and educating the communities on Ebola prevention.
We have been responding to the crisis by equipping communities and health professionals with the knowledge, infrastructure, and supplies necessary to prevent the spread of Ebola. Specifically, we are actively providing critical help by expanding community education campaigns; training health care providers; constructing infrastructure for the isolation of suspected cases; and providing personal protective equipment and sanitation necessities to minimize the spread of the virus. Our role in the region is evolving and we are excited to announce in the coming weeks how we plan to continue the fight.
TIME’s managing editor wrote an article explaining why the Ebola Fighters were chosen and also posed a question.
“So that is the next challenge: What will we do with what we’ve learned?” asked Gibbs.
Our Liberian country director, Jolene Mullins, preemptively answered Gibbs question in an October Huffington Post article.
“The way we’re going to beat Ebola is by making sure people know the facts, and it’s critical to raise awareness about the virus and dispel the many myths around it. I see the results of misinformation every day, and unfortunately it’s measured in the lives of people.”