A billion people around the world lack access to health care because they live too far from a clinic. 2017 TED Prize winner Raj Panjabi aims to extend health services to the last mile.

Why you should listen

Raj Panjabi was nine when civil war broke out in his native country, Liberia. His family resettled in High Point, North Carolina, but he returned to Liberia as a medical student in 2005. He was shocked to find a health care system in total devastation. Only 50 doctors remained to treat a population of four million.

With a team of Liberian civil war survivors, American health workers and $6,000 he'd received as a wedding gift, Panjabi co-founded Last Mile Health. The organization saves lives in the world's most remote communities by partnering with governments to deploy, sustain and manage national networks of community health professionals. They currently support the Government of Liberia's deployment of more than 4,000 health workers to provide life-saving healthcare to 1.2 million people and protect against the next epidemic. Last Mile Health's network of community health workers can be leveraged in a crisis -- in the fight against Ebola, the organization aided government response by training health workers in southeastern Liberia.

Panjabi is a physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is a recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and was named to TIME's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2016. As the winner of the 2017 TED Prize, Panjabi is creating the Community Health Academy, a global platform to train, connect and empower community health workers. The Academy aims to reinvent the education of community health workers -- and the leaders who support them -- for the digital age.

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