TIME Shines a Light on Ebola Fighters

Photo: CDC Epidemic Intelligence Officer Kpandja Djawe completes daily tally sheets from his contact tracing visit in Kamian, Guinea.

Last week, TIME named Ebola Fighters as the 2014 Person of the Year for their “tireless acts of courage and mercy.” The announcement made me extremely proud of our CDC colleagues who are on the front lines of the worst Ebola epidemic in history, as well as the hundreds of Atlanta staff who are working around the clock to support them. 

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, who was featured in TIME, credited CDC’s staff for their dedication to ending Ebola. “It’s the people on the front lines,” said Frieden, when asked about TIME’s 2014 selection when speaking to the Atlanta Press Club recently. “They deserve all the recognition.”  

CDC staff have surged into West Africa, working with international and domestic partners to set up labs and emergency operations centers, train contact-tracing and burial teams and provide leadership and communications support.  

In his TIME interview Dr. Frieden said, “I’m determined to do everything I can and help CDC do everything we can to support the U.S. government and the rest of the global community, but most important, the communities in West Africa to put an end to this. But it is going to be a long, hard fight.” 

TIME Editor Nancy Gibbs reported:  

“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.” 

Many CDC staff won’t be at home celebrating with loved ones this holiday season. Instead, they’ll be in West Africa, working to stem the tide of the Ebola epidemic that has taken the lives of more than 6,856 of the 18,498 people infected with the disease. Our generous donors have stepped forward in unprecedented ways to support CDC’s fight against this deadly epidemic. TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year issue shines a light on the crucial work CDC is doing at home, and around the world, to protect us all.

Charles Stokes is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.