Dr. Raj Panjabi Goes the Last Mile in Liberia

Dr. Raj Panjabi Goes the Last Mile in Liberia

Dr. Raj Panjabi, 36, is a co-founder and the chief executive of Last Mile Health, a charity that brings medical care to some of the most remote corners of Liberia.

Earlier this year, he was awarded both the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship — an honor worth $1.25 million — and the $1 million TED Prize. Dr. Panjabi, who teaches at Harvard Medical School, plans to use the money to finance the training of community health workers in Liberia and other developing countries.

We spoke for three hours at his offices in Boston. An edited and condensed version of our conversation follows.

  1. Why do you call the organization Last Mile Health?
  2. Because there are a billion people around the world who live in communities so distant from health care services that they might die of diseases that no one needs to die from.

These people live in small isolated settlements where no doctor or nurse visits. They exist beyond “the last mile” of the organized health care system. In Liberia, I’ve been to districts where people walked for two days to get to a clinic.