Time Inc. Archives

2014 TIME Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

Dec 10, 2014

NEW YORK, December 10, 2014 – Today, TIME names “The Ebola Fighters” the 2014 TIME Person of the Year: http://time.com/poy 


TIME Editor Nancy Gibbs writes, “2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic…It reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place…. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one…Governments weren’t equipped to respond; the World Health Organization was in denial and snarled in red tape. First responders were accused of crying wolf, even as the danger grew. But the people in the field, the special forces of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Christian medical-relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams. Ask what drove them and some talk about God; some about country; some about the instinct to run into the fire, not away.


“Ebola is a war, and a warning. The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease, and ‘us’ means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day. The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. 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.”


Gibbs on the Choice: http://ti.me/1yxi0oC


Video: http://ti.me/1yxi0oC







The issue carries five covers, each featuring an Ebola Fighter who has worked on the ground in West Africa. TIME photographed four subjects for the cover in Monrovia, Liberia: Dr. Jerry Brown, who is on the front cover, is a Liberian surgeon who turned his hospital’s chapel into one of the country’s first Ebola treatment centers; Salome Karwah, an Ebola survivor who lost both her parents to the disease and now counsels patients in Liberia; Ella Watson-Stryker, an American health educator for MSF who has been helping fight Ebola in West Africa since March; and Foday Gallah, an ambulance supervisor and Ebola survivor in Monrovia. For the fifth cover, TIME photographed Dr. Kent Brantly, who was running an Ebola treatment center in Monrovia when he became the first American to be infected.


Download the front cover here: http://bit.ly/1yPjyt5


TIME’s Africa Bureau Chief Aryn Baker reported from Liberia and TIME journalists interviewed Ebola fighters including several doctors, nurses, caregivers, scientists, ambulance drivers, leaders of organizations and others, including:


CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden: “When the cases first hit, we sent in a team, and our team felt that they could control it. But there was some friction with WHO, which I had to get involved in. Essentially, people thought it was going to be controlled, and they didn’t want us there. So I had to tell WHO, ‘Let our team in, this is ridiculous.’ They wanted to do it themselves. There was resentment. They didn’t want to feel like they were dependent on the CDC. We left, and then Ebola came roaring back.”


MSF President Joanne Liu: “I remember very well the WHO saying the outbreak was under control, and it took us awhile to convince them that it was not. The wake-up call came when volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse were infected in late July. Suddenly, Ebola wasn’t such a distant reality for the Western world.”


Nurse Amber Vinson: “It was hard to see a lot of the things they were saying in the news. It was emotionally taxing. The media was disappointing in some ways, because it promotes fear.”


Nurse Nina Pham: “I replay it over and over again in my head how I could have gotten infected. I did everything that was recommended. It was just a shock when my chief nursing officer and a CDC officer came to see me in their full protective equipment. I knew it was not good.”


Caregiver Salome Karwah: “I was in the treatment center for four weeks [and] four days. Really, what made me survive is the support from the nurses. The support from the psychosocial [team] also really helped me…. They were looking for survivors to come and work [at the MSF clinic]. I make it my duty to come. The more I interact with people, the more I will forget about my sad story. The more I share my story with people, the more I will get strong, strong, strong and stronger.”


Dr. Jerry Brown: “When it all started and we had a treatment unit set up, my wife did warn me not to enter the unit. So I didn’t tell her. I had been in the unit two weeks without her knowing…. A few days later she noticed changes in the color of my boxers from the chlorine solution used for disinfection when leaving the unit. She said, ‘Ah, what is this?’ I had no option but to confess. We talked about it for some time, and then she accepted it. What she said was, ‘I can’t stop you. I realize this is something you like, so I am not going to stop you. But just be careful.’”


Emory Univ. Hospital’s Dr. Bruce Ribner: “Early on in the outbreak, I knew there were people in Africa who had Ebola, and I knew there were Americans there. I also knew that if they were transferred back to the U.S., there was a high likelihood that they would look at us. Our primary mission is to support CDC workers. But I was not thinking about a civilian until I got that phone call [about Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol].”


Dr. Kent Brantly: “Shortly after I arrived at Emory, [my wife] Amber called from a phone outside my room. I don’t remember that conversation, I was so delirious, but she said to me, “We watched you walk off that ambulance.” I said, ‘You were watching me?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Kent. The whole world was watching you.’”


Public Health Educator Ella Watson-Stryker: “Guinea broke my heart. I was not prepared for the level of mortality. I wasn’t prepared to watch entire families die. I wasn’t prepared to watch entire villages die.”


Nurse Kaci Hickox: “I have witnessed the devastation Ebola causes and have personally experienced the stigma that fear of this disease brings. I do want to go back to West Africa, but for now, I’m taking things day by day.”


Ambulance Supervisor Foday Gallah: “I am going to get on that ambulance. I am going to every nook and cranny of the capital city, pick up whatsoever Ebola patient and take them to the treatment unit, and give them words of hope, of encouragement. And try to educate people about Ebola.”



Cover story by David von Drehle with Aryn Baker: http://ti.me/1B3vAy0


Behind TIME’s Ebola reporting: http://ti.me/1vLNqWi


Nancy Gibbs’ editor’s letter: http://ti.me/1yNewwY


Video: The Ebola Fighters: Medical Workers in Liberia and the US: http://ti.me/1B3vAy0


Behind the Ebola Fighters Cover: http://ti.me/12MfPzv


Oral Histories from:

Doctors: http://ow.ly/FGAm7

Caregivers: http://ti.me/1saDKF6

Nurses: http://ti.me/1wdzlzE

Directors: http://ow.ly/FGAx4

Scientists: http://ti.me/1vBizGN







TIME’s Alex Altman writes: “An unarmed black man shot dead by a white cop is a tragedy, but a recurring one; the uproar can fizzle as fast as it flares…But Ferguson was the spark that started a fire. Demonstrators couldn’t win the indictment of Darren Wilson, the police officer who fired the fatal shots. Yet they built a movement that revived a dormant national conversation about race and justice.”


Altman also writes, “These are the sounds, activists say, of a new civil rights movement—a battle to reshape the relationship between the police and the people they are paid to protect. What started in a Missouri suburb may end with change that can be measured in lives saved…The unruly protests have called a nation’s attention to a problem some thought had been solved and others didn’t want to acknowledge at all.”


Behind the Ferguson Painting: http://ti.me/1ukaNRn








TIME’s Simon Shuster writes, “Putin’s approval ratings have skyrocketed since the annexation of Crimea, reaching a peak of 88% in October. Not since 2008, when Putin last defied the West by sending Russian tanks into neighboring Georgia, has he enjoyed such popularity at home…. When Time named Putin Person of the Year in 2007, we wrote that the President had offered his subjects a ‘grand bargain—of freedom for security.’ Russians sick of the chaos of the post-Soviet 1990s eagerly accepted Putin’s bargain then, but they may feel differently as the chill of economic recession and international isolation sets in. Make no mistake, though: Russians also remember that their country once dominated a sixth of the earth’s landmass and stood as a global player second to none. That is the role Putin seeks to regain—and he seems prepared for the consequences.”


Mikhail Gorbachev tells TIME that with the conquest of Crimea, Putin at last restored a scrap of Russia’s honor by “acting on his own.”







TIME’s Karl Vick on Kurdistan and its leader, Barzani: “The young statelet has its own army, legislature, border checkpoints, foreign policy and, in Massoud Barzani, a powerful President whose life encapsulates the history of a people whose time finally appears to have come…. Barzani, the leader of a stateless people, now stands in a position to decide the future of Iraq and with it, perhaps, that of the Middle East.”







TIME’s Rana Foroohar writes, “When the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange rang out on Sept. 19, it marked the biggest IPO the world had ever seen…. This new Wall Street juggernaut, based 7,000 miles away in Hangzhou, China, is Alibaba. Its founder and chairman, 50-year-old Jack Ma, is now challenging some of the most powerful companies on the Internet, including Amazon, eBay and PayPal. And he is doing so by melding Western entrepreneurship with a canny—and sometimes controversial—sense of how to profit in the world’s most populous nation.”




History of Person of the Year: http://ti.me/1sgqmK4


See every Person of the Year cover in TIME’s history: http://ti.me/1wwiLhC

Everything You Wanted to Know About TIME’s Person of the Year: http://ti.me/1GbaAZ3




The December 22 / December 29, 2014 Person of the Year issue of TIME goes on sale on news stands Friday, December 12.


Media Contacts:


TIME PR HOTLINE (212) 522-4800

Kerri Chyka (212) 522-3651

Danny Leonard (212) 522-0361

Key Media Contacts
Art Slusark
Chief Communications Officer
Jill Davison
National Media Group