This Harvard doctor has a plan to save 30 million lives by 2030
VANCOUVER — A 2-year-old child in rural Liberia has a fever. It could be malaria, and the only way to get treatment is for her mother to carry her on her back, cross a riverbed by canoe and walk through a forest for at least two days to get to the nearest health care clinic.
This was the type of devastating circumstance Dr. Raj Panjabi encountered when he returned to his childhood home of Liberia as a medical student almost 15 years ago. In the country that his family fled when he was just a boy to escape a civil war, Panjabi saw that people were dying from diseases that modern medicine can treat. But in a country of 4 million, there were only 50 doctors, and in the most remote areas of the country access to them was almost nonexistent.
Since then Panjabi, a doctor at Harvard Medical School, has built a nonprofit, The Last Mile Health, that trains community health workers in Liberia to administer simple health care procedures in places where treatment is hard to come by.
Now, with the help of a $1 million prize awarded to him at the international TED conference Tuesday evening, Panjabi plans to fulfill his dream of training health-care workers in rural communities all over the world.