Nearing the End of Ebola: A Lesson in Leadership

This post is part of an archived series of blogs called The LeVine Line, written by former Ambassador Suzan G. LeVine during her time at U.S. Embassy Bern.

8 March 2015

There are many articles coming out now that are heralding the end of Ebola – or at least a dramatic reduction in the What is leadership?

We are witnessing an incredible example of leadership with what has happened to Ebola.

According to the CDC Case Counts – a year ago, in the month of October 2014 alone, there were 1,611 Ebola-related deaths and 6,383 cases total. One year later, those numbers are 3 and 139, respectively. In this Gizmodo article, they talk about How West Africa is Crushing the Ebola. They also talk about the fact that, a short while ago, Liberia was declared Ebola free.

This Washington Post article shares that, even more recently, Sierra Leone hit that Ebola-Free milestone.

A year ago, there was a threat of a global pandemic and a sense of likely death for anyone contracting the disease. This year, it is neutralized and people know that there are ways to survive – with several vaccines coming closer to the market.

Why are we on the brink of eradicating this heinous disease?

One of the main reasons is because a year ago, President Obama made it a top priority, issued a rallying cry to other nations to take on this enormous challenge, and stepped up to be at the front of that coalition with substantial resources – including 3,300 troops, and innumerable health professionals. And the whole world got involved in helping – including Switzerland.  Recognizing that the issues we face and the opportunities we have before us are far too big to tackle alone, President Obama implored other governments to join us in getting involved. He also recognized that our engagement couldn’t be a flash in the pan. Hard problems take time and persistence to resolve.

As he shared in February “…in the 21st century, we cannot build moats around our countries. There are no drawbridges to be pulled up. We shouldn’t try. … This is not charity. The investments we make overseas are in our self-interest — this is not charity; we do this because the world is interconnected — in the same way that the investments we make in NIH are not a nice-to-do, they are a must-do.“

That’s leadership.

And it works.