Raj Panjabi’s big idea for rural healthcare
To be announced
A billion people around the world lack access to health care, simply because they live too far from a doctor or clinic. For them, getting medical treatment means traveling for hours or even days -- often on motorbike or by foot. Many die from treatable diseases as a result. But Raj Panjabi, founder of Last Mile Health, has created a model to solve this problem, starting with the most remote communities of rural Liberia. The key: training and employing community health workers -- individuals who learn to diagnose and perform medical interventions, and can serve as a bridge to the primary health system. At TED2017, Raj will reveal a wish to highlight and push his work forward. Because if properly supported, community health workers have the power to transform access to care in remote areas and protect against pandemic outbreaks.
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Raj Panjabi grew up in Liberia, but at age nine, his family fled a devastating civil war and relocated to the United States. He studied hard, and in 2005 returned to his native country as a medical student. He was shocked to find a health care system in shambles. Only 50 doctors remained to treat a population of four million.
Raj founded Last Mile Health to expand access to health services for those living in Liberia’s most remote regions. The nonprofit partners with the government to recruit, train, equip and employ community health care workers, empowering them to provide a wide range of services. In 2016, Last Mile Health deployed 300 community health workers, who conducted more than 42,000 patient visits and treated nearly 22,000 cases of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea in children. The organization also helped tackle the Ebola epidemic in southeastern Liberia by assisting the government of Liberia in its response and training 1,300 health workers to prevent the spread of the disease.
Last Mile Health has created a model that can be replicated elsewhere. As the winner of the 2017 TED Prize, Raj will reveal a bold wish at the annual TED conference in Vancouver on April 25, 2017. Audiences around the world will be invited to watch live through the TED Cinema Experience.
News from Raj
From the field
Community health workers for Last Mile Health travel far to reach villages in Grand Gedeh County in eastern Liberia. Reaching remote communities often involves long hikes or traveling by motorbike.
Armed with a stethoscope and medical supplies, community health workers for Last Mile Health provide primary, pediatric and maternal health care.
- NPR: A doctor goes the extra mile
- TIME: TED Prize winner is Raj Panjabi
- Wired UK: Last Mile Health wins Prize
- Quartz: An experiment in Liberia
- Fortune: Cracking the last mile problem
- Wired UK: How phones map outbreaks