RADM Scott F. Giberson, BSPharm, PhC, NCPS-PP, MPH, overall Commander of the Commissioned Corps Ebola Response in West Africa, today introduced President Barack Obama for an event dedicated to America’s leadership in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Under Giberson’s direction, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps opened a treatment center outside of the Liberian capital of Monrovia in mid-November to treat Liberian and international health care workers. Giberson is also CEO of the USPHS Commissioned Corps and Director, Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness.
“We will continue to be resilient, and fight this war on Ebola, and win,” Giberson said in a brief speech introducing the president.
While Giberson was in Liberia, he said, Obama called him and noted it was a rare opportunity to save so many lives. “That leader, when others were spreading doubt and fear, was my Commander-in-Chief and our President. At this time, it is my privilege to introduce the President of the United States.”
Obama took the opportunity to thank Giberson and his team, as well as many other workers on the front lines and behind the scenes responding to EVD.
“All of you represent what is best about America and what’s possible when we lead,” said Obama. According to the president, there has been an 80% dropoff in weekly EVD cases, with Liberia seeing the most progress. Sierra Leone and Guinea have seen less of a decline. “Our focus now is getting to zero,” he said. “We’re shifting our focus from fighting the epidemic to now extinguishing it.”
The president announced that by April 30, 2015, most troops deployed in West Africa will be coming home. Only 100 will remain to support the ongoing response—“not because the job is done, but because they were so effective in setting up the infrastructure,” he said.
He stressed that this was in no way an indication that the mission in West Africa was complete.
“We are now equipped to deal with the job that needs to be done in West Africa, not only with a broader, international coalition, but also with folks who have been trained who are from countries that were most at risk,” said the president.
Giberson told pharmacist.com that it was a rare privilege to have the opportunity to introduce the president, and in the larger context, to affect people’s lives around the world.
“We have had pharmacists on each team and they have performed admirably in this unique and austere environment. They have had global impact on the largest [EVD] outbreak ever documented. I consider that to be a privilege, not a risk,” he said.
He thanked individuals from the pharmacy profession for their support.
RADM Pamela M. Schweitzer, PharmD, BCACP, USPHS Chief Pharmacy Officer, saw it as an ultimate honor for Giberson to introduce the president during the event.
“RADM Giberson has worked tirelessly on this multiple-faceted mission, both domestically and abroad, to make this a successful mission,” Schweitzer told pharmacist.com. “The U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and pharmacy profession are very proud of RADM Giberson. This is leadership at its finest.”
The event is archived at: www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2015/02/11/president-obama-provides-update-us-led-response-ebola.
Updated February 12, 2015, with link to archived video.