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Ideas on the Forefront
October 2, 2014

Raj Panjabi Leads Ebola Response Efforts


Photo by Last Mile Health, known in Liberia as Tiyatien Health

The Ebola outbreak appears to be far from over. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control together with World Health Organization reported that as of September 29, there were 6,574 cases of the hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. While global health organizations work to combat the spread of the disease, 2011 Echoing Green Fellow Dr. Rajesh Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health, has teamed up with Partners in Health (PIH) on the front lines in Liberia to combat what World Bank President Jim Kim called “one of the worst public health epidemics in history.”

Last Mile Health is pioneering a comprehensive approach to reconstruct the rural health care system in war-torn Liberia, one of the nations hardest hit by the outbreak, with a training and outreach model for community health workers. Last week, Last Mile Health and PIH received $2 million from GE Foundation to help develop a comprehensive strategy to address Ebola, care for patients, and support the public health systems of Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the budget could increase to $100 million next year. Last Mile Health will scale their innovative frontline health workers to several health districts in southeastern Liberia, in order to bring Ebola education, case identification, and treatment to hundreds of remote villages in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

Raj, born in Liberia, saw the effects of the Civil War first-hand. His family fled the country when we was 9-years-old, and Raj went on to live and study in the US, and eventually become a doctor and faculty member of  Harvard Medical School. But he never forgot those left behind–and with mentorship and support, he has commited to bringing this innovative model of health care to Liberia where he has worked hand-in-hand with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the government, and partners to make sure that the people of Liberia – whether they live in cities or in rural areas – get the health care they need.

Learn more about Raj’s recent efforts to combat Ebola:

  • Al Jazeera America article quoting Last Mile Health’s Associate Medical Director Andy Sechler, on the need for strengthened health systems to respond to and prevent epidemics like Ebola (September 16, 2014).
  • Boston Herald article detailing the trip led by Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi with PIH leadership team, including Dr. Paul Farmer, to Liberia as part of the Ebola response coalition (September 16, 2014).
  • Forbes article by Last Mile Health advisory council member Randall Lane announcing the $4 million grant from the Open Society Foundation to support the Ebola response coalition with Last Mile Health (September 16, 2014).
  • 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station, interview with Raj Panjabi on the trip to Liberia with Last Mile Health and Partners In Health leadership teams, including Dr. Paul Farmer (September 15, 2014).
  • And more up-to-date information from Last Mile Health