President, MSF International, Geneva, Switzerland
The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) dispatched more than 700 doctors, health care professionals and relief workers to ground zero, treating about 35 percent of all Ebola patients, starting in March 2014. Within MSF, 28 of its colleagues became infected, 14 of whom died, and the aid group cared for more than 2,600 patients who later died. MSF was among the first to sound the alarms about the Ebola outbreak.
Liu: Ebola spun out of control because of a lack of political leadership — the world stood aside while Ebola tore through western Africa. Everyone missed Ebola, but when we said it was out of control, we were [accused of] being alarmist. It was only when an American got sick in August of 2014 that the world woke up and took action to stop Ebola from coming to their countries.
But it was too little, too late, and thousands were already dead or dying. When I visited western Africa [that] August, I saw how local people were completely overwhelmed by the situation. We didn’t have enough room for all the patients, there was no place for them to lie down, and we were completely limited in the care we were providing. This is the first time in all of our history that MSF built crematoriums — we had too many dead bodies.