Time magazine has named its “Person of the Year 2014” the doctors, nurses and others s who take part in treating the Ebola epidemic, which has already claimed lives of more than 6,300 people across the world.
The popular publication announced on Wednesday that it had chosen to honour healthcare worker fighting the spread of the terrible virus through “tireless acts of courage and mercy”.
Editor Nancy Gibbs praised “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 who fought side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams.”
“The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight,” Gibbs wrote.
“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 editor wrote.
She continued, “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.”
The hemorrhagic fever developed from an outbreak into an epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and there have been scattered cases in Nigeria, Mali, Spain, Germany and the United States.
The White House welcomed the award as a tribute to the “heroism and selflessness” of countless healthcare workers.
“The administration, including the president, could not be prouder of the brave men and women who’ve committed themselves to this effort in a foreign land,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.
Antoine Petibon, head of international programmes for the French Red Cross, which helped to resist the virus in the French-speaking country of Guinea, called it “great recognition for all these people who have been toiling in the shadows”.
“If it helps us wipe out this epidemic faster, all the better,” he added.
Among the others candidates for “Person of the Year” honors were Russian President Vladimir Putin, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Other finalists included singer Taylor Swift, Chinese Internet tycoon Jack Ma, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.
The magazine’s readers voted for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to receive the title, but the Time editors’ decision is based on their view of “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.”