It’s tempting to draw comparisons between the current Ebola outbreak to Sierra Leone’s civil war, which ended over 10 years ago. Many Sierra Leoneans have told me they think Ebola is worse than the civil war, because Ebola is an invisible enemy. Before, when the rebels were around you knew where to avoid. Now, you must be live with a constant guard around yourself and your family.
TIME called Ebola fighters 2014’s Person Of The Year. Some of us cringed at that title. Many healthcare workers have told me they reject the notion that they are “fighting an enemy” and want the narrative to be one of supporting local healthcare workers and communities, hard-work, and dedication.
Word choice aside, Ebola is a tough beast. The national and international nurses, doctors, environmental health and sanitation experts, sprayers, burial workers, community mobilizers, youth activists, womens activists, drivers, administrators, supply chain managers — whether it’s “fighting” or “supporting” or just plain ole’ “working hard” there’s no denying the respect and gratitude they deserve.
Cases are declining in all three countries, but now is not the time for celebration or letting down our guard. The road to zero will be difficult, long, and bumpy.