Raj Panjabi
14,220 views • 7:10


Raj Panjabi: Illness is universal, access to care is not, and realizing this lit a fire in my soul. No one should die because they live too far from a doctor or clinic. I wish that you would help us recruit the largest army of community health workers the world has ever known by creating the Community Health Academy, a global platform to train, connect and empower. [Great Big Story in partnership with TED] Narrator: They had a big idea to change the world. But they couldn't do it alone. (Voices overlapping) So, my wish ... My wish ... I wish ... And now, here's my wish ... [Torchbearers] [Ideas in action]

RP: Epidemic diseases like Ebola, HIV, Zika, emerge from remote, rural communities including the rain forests of West and Central Africa. These are the hotspots of disease. They're the hotspots of infections. They're the hotspots of death that are located in the blindspots of the global health system. The idea that disease anywhere can be a threat to people everywhere is very real. So how do we stop this? Well, it's to enable community health workers to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks at their very source.


There are a billion people who live in the world's most remote communities. And while we've made great advances in medicine and in technology, our innovations are not reaching the last mile. They're not reaching these remote communities. We launched a nonprofit called Last Mile Health, and Last Mile Health's mission is to bring a health care worker within reach of everyone everywhere.

Woman: Hello. How are you?

RP: A community health worker is someone who lives in one of these communities that's cut off, several days away from the nearest clinic, and they may not have had a chance to finish even high school.

Woman: I'm just listening to her lungs.

RP: They're trained to perform medical skills that can save lives. Their job is to go door to door to provide health care.

Serrena Kun: When I was little, I had a passion of becoming a nurse. I loved taking care of children. So when the community came here to find people, I put my hand up. I said I wanted to help little children.

RP: What these community health workers like Serrena are doing is trying to bring the kind of health care your family doctor may provide but in places your family doctor may never go.

Prince Pailey: When I wake up in the morning, I put my bag on my bike. The distances that I work is sometimes two hours, three hours in a forest. Some areas, some creeks, they drown with the ocean, so that every crossing you find it so difficult.

RP: Community health workers are trained to address the health problems of their own community. In a country like Liberia, it could mean helping a mother get treatment for her child suffering from malaria. Man: This is paracetamol. This is ACT. So the only time you're going to give it is in the evening time.

PP: In Liberia, the children die more than the adults, because we have some people in the villages, they don't sleep under a mosquito net.

RP: We already know community health workers can help health care systems save more lives. Their ability to do that is strengthened when they're enabled with modern technology. Woman: Now, she's saying that the child has improved and went to school today.

RP: If community health workers were equipped with smartphones, this would increase their ability to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks and epidemics. It's time for technology to help reinvent health care on a game-changing scale. We are building the world's first education platform for community health workers that allows them to see the condition. There's instruction on the phone to help the worker decide what treatment to give. But equipping 50,000 community health workers with smartphones is an extraordinarily ambitious effort, larger than what our organization alone could take on. It required collaboration. We realized that working together with other partners like Living Goods would help us truly solve that problem.

(Child crying)

And then we learned about The Audacious Project, a new opportunity that TED and a group of visionary philanthropists had been working on to fund some of the boldest, most audacious ideas in the world. So that's all very exciting, because many, many more millions of children and families are now going to have a chance of getting it, and they're going to get it from their own neighbors.

Man: They say a health worker for everyone, everywhere, every day. Thank you.

RP: Community health workers become the very people who can make a difference.

SK: I love children, I love my community, and my community loves me.

PP: I have love and passion for the job, so I will continue to work for my people.

RP: We could by 2030 save 30 million lives by training these workers to do 30 services.

We as people are not defined by the conditions we face, no matter how hopeless they seem. We're defined by how we respond to them. And our response has to demand a health worker for everyone everywhere.

[Support the big ideas of the Audacious Project] [AudaciousProject.org]