Dr. Raj Panjabi is not your ordinary doctor. He’s a Harvard Medical School instructor, a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a TIME 100 Most Influential People honoree for his work on Ebola in rural Liberia, and the 2017 winner of the coveted TED Prize.
At the age of 9, Panjabi, fled civil war in his home country of Liberia to the United States. He returned to Liberia in 2005 nearly two decades later as a doctor, and used funds he received as a wedding gift to launch Last Mile Health, an organization that trains and equips people to become health care workers and provide for their communities in Liberia. When Panjabi arrived in Liberia in 2005, there were only 51 doctors to serve nearly its 4 million people. “People were dying from conditions that they shouldn’t in the 21st century, like pneumonia and childbirth,” says Panjabi in an interview with TIME. “They would die anonymously.” Today, thanks in large part to his work, the country has hundreds of health workers and is on it’s way to training and employing over 4,000.
The award is granted each year to an exceptional person with the means to tackle a global problem. For Raj Panjabi his ultimate goal is to provide medical care to “everyone, everywhere, every day.”