Last Mile Health CEO Raj Panjabi has an ambitious goal for training community health workers.
Technology’s steady march has catalyzed vigorous debates about how much innovation may be displacing—and perhaps even dooming— traditional workers. But Last Mile Health CEO Dr. Raj Panjabi argues it could concurrently fuel a boom in health care jobs and medical services for some of the most disadvantaged people in the world, as he told Fortune Editor in Chief Clifton Leaf at Fortune‘s CEO Initiative in New York Monday.
The nonprofit Last Mile Health is assembling a massive team of health workers who can serve critical health care needs for people within their own communities—i.e., provide the “last mile” of medical service delivery built into the organization’s name. Panjabi is using his $1 million 2017 TED Prize winnings to fulfill his wish of creating a digital health education system that can be used to “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,” as he explained during his TED talk in April.
“This is an opportunity to use technology to actually create jobs [while improving community health],” he told Leaf on Monday. Previously, he’s said that such digital health initiatives could help save 30 million lives by 2030.
Panjabi’s organization deployed 10,000 workers in his birth nation of Liberia to staunch the ongoing Ebola epidemic of 2014; he’s looking to create a far bigger force that can provide preventive and primary care in the areas that need them most.