“The Ebola Fighters” are Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2014, the magazine announced Wednesday morning.
Hours later, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden essentially agreed with that choice, in speaking to the Atlanta Press Club.
“It’s the people on the front lines,” said Frieden, when asked about Time’s 2014 selection. “They [the Ebola workers] deserve all the recognition,’’ he said. “CDC has over 700 people working on Ebola at any one time,” he said, “and 180 CDC staff are in West Africa right now.”
Frieden was quick to add that the people in the field — the special forces of Doctors Without Borders, the Christian medical relief workers of Samaritan’s Purse and many others from all over the world — continue to fight side by side with local doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers and burial teams.
“Ebola is the story of the year,” said Frieden.
“If we don’t stop Ebola there [in West Africa], we will be fighting it in other places, including the U.S.”
Currently., CDC staff are working closely with U.S. hospitals, infection disease specialists and hospital epidemiologists, reaching U.S. clinicians with critical information on preparing for additional Ebola infections.
Georgia plays a big role in the battle against Ebola. Not only is the CDC headquartered in Atlanta, but Emory University Hospital was the first U.S. facility to treat an Ebola patient.
Frieden said that he’s “confident that we can stop Ebola.”
He told the journalists that he is encouraged by the international commitment in fighting the disease, which has killed more than 6,000 people in West Africa. The fight is winnable, said Frieden.
He also said Wednesday he’s encouraged by a $5.4 billion spending plan proposed by Congress to fight Ebola.
The plan put forward by top lawmakers this week is part of ongoing congressional budget negotiations, the Associated Press reported. Frieden said the funding is necessary to establish early warning systems that identify disease outbreaks, create medical laboratories, train health workers and support emergency command centers in at-risk countries, the AP reported.
Time has run the Person of the Year feature, which highlights the year’s most influential newsmaker, each year since 1927.
Judi Kanne, a registered nurse and freelance writer, combines her nursing and journalism backgrounds to write about public health. She lives in Atlanta.