Ebola Fighters Named TIME's 2014 'Person of the Year'

magazine has named the "Ebola Fighters" — doctors, nurses, caregivers, scientists, and medical directors "who answered the call," often putting their own lives on the line — as its .

Among the individuals whose efforts TIME highlights is Jerry Brown, medical director at a hospital outside Monrovia, Liberia, where American doctor Kent Brantly worked and was later infected. As early as March, Brown arranged for staff training and stockpiled bleach in anticipation of holding a few infected patients while they awaited test results and transfers to a proper Ebola treatment facility which, the doctors mistakenly assumed, the country's Ministry of Health would create. According to TIME, the potential for an Ebola outbreak should have been on everyone's radar, yet national and international public health officials waited five months to move against the unfolding disaster.

"[T]he battle against Ebola," TIME reports, "[was] left for month after crucial month to a ragged army of volunteers and near volunteers, doctors who wouldn't quit even as their colleagues fell ill and died; nurses comforting patients while standing in slurries of mud, vomit, and feces; ambulance drivers facing down hostile crowds to transport passengers teeming with the virus; investigators tracing chains of infection through slums hot with disease; workers stoically zipping contagious corpses into body bags in the sun; patients meeting death in lonely isolation to protect others from infection."

Ella Watson-Stryker, a public health educator with , which expanded its on-the-ground staff in Guinea even as other humanitarian organizations were evacuating theirs, told TIME that she encountered a local population hostile to outsiders. "You saw the fear in people's faces. They didn't understand what was going on." When Watson-Stryker gathered alarming reports from Guineans about the scope of the outbreak, local officials accused MSF of crying wolf and sowing panic, while the initially rebuffed offers of assistance from the ; a WHO spokesperson said no one at its Geneva headquarters had any knowledge of its local representatives refusing CDC's help.

Mosoka Fallah, a Harvard-educated Liberian epidemiologist, doggedly traced those who came into contact with Ebola patients, discovering that fear, shame, and ignorance had kept families from reporting new infections and enabling the virus to spread in Monrovia. According to TIME, more than six hundred doctors, nurses, and other medics have been infected to date, more than three hundred of whom have died. Ambulance driver Foday Gallah and nurse trainee Salome Karwah were among those infected; both survived. Subsequently, when MSF sought to hire Ebola survivors, who are believed to develop immunity to the virus, Karwah was one of the first to step forward.

Others recognized in the TIME article include Bruce Ribner, medical director of the Serious Communicable Disease Unit at in Atlanta, where Brantly was successfully treated; Katie Meyler and Iris Martor, founder and nurse, respectively, of the for girls in a Monrovia slum; Kaci Hickox, a volunteer nurse deployed to Sierra Leone by MSF; several scientists who are working to develop treatments and vaccines for Ebola; and the United Nations' Anthony Banbury, who leads the international to contain the outbreak. While those efforts have met with some success, Banbury says, the number of people who succumb to the virus will rise further. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far," he told TIME, "but in retrospect, the whole world wishes we had done more and we had done it earlier."

David von Drehle, Aryn Baker. "." TIME 12/10/2014.