Harvard’s Raj Panjabi Awarded $1 Million TED Prize

The doctor will get $1 million for his vision of expanding healthcare to all.

Raj Panjabi

Photo via AP

A $1 million award will help a local doctor further his dreams of expanding access to healthcare.

Raj Panjabi—a Harvard Medical School instructor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital associate physician, and one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People—has been named winner of the 2017 TED Prize. The TED Prize puts $1 million toward a game-changing idea each year. This year, that idea is Panjabi’s vision of expanding healthcare to all. His exact plans for the money will be announced at the TED Conference in April.

Panjabi, who fled his war-torn home of Liberia for the United States when he was nine, returned to Liberia in 2005 and launched Last Mile Health, an organization that trains people to become healthcare workers and provide for remote communities.

Perhaps most notably, the group was on the front lines of the Ebola crisis, training more than 1,000 providers and helping Liberian clinics manage the disease. And in 2016 alone, Last Mile Health’s community health workers conducted more than 42,000 visits to patients, treating thousands of pediatric cases of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

The program helps more than patients, too—with its assistance, Liberia is on track to employ more than 4,000 health workers. If a similar initiative were instated in the United States, Panjabi says, thousands of jobs could be created here in America.

“There is so much to be done,” Panjabi told Time. “The healthier we keep our communities, the more productive they will be. Morally, it’s the right thing to do.”