Doctors, nurses and others fighting Ebola have been named Time’s 2014 Person of the Year, the magazine announced Wednesday.
The runners-up included Ferguson, Missouri, protesters; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani; and Jack Ma, the China-based founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba.
In an article on the Time website, 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.”
Gibbs noted that the disease also struck doctors and nurses.
“The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight,” she wrote. “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.”
Antoine Petibon, head of international programs for the French Red Cross, which has been active in anti-Ebola efforts 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,” Petibon added.
Reached in Nairobi, Birte Hald, head of emergency operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, welcomed the magazine’s choice, but used the opportunity to stress who she thinks deserves the honor and credit.
“I think it should be awarded to the front-line fighters, those who are doing all the dangerous stuff,” Hald said. “People like myself, we are working hard, but we are not at risk. People doing the safe and dignified burials, the contact tracing and the transport of the sick, working in the treatment centers – these are the people who deserve our praise and respect.”
Pope Francis was last year’s person of the year.