EJS Center board member Dr. Raj Panjabi: “It’s Not Enough To Fight One Disease Outbreak – You Have To Build Systems That Can Prevent The Next Ones”

In a recent Forbes article, EJS Center board member and CEO of Last Mile Health Dr. Raj Panjabi emphasized that effective responses to crises such as COVID-19 are enabled by strong health systems that already are meeting the everyday needs of citizens.

Citing Liberia’s response to the Ebola epidemic under former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as an example, Dr. Panjabi highlighted the importance of systems change in responding effectively to health crises:

“In one district where Last Mile Health and the Government of Liberia had invested for years prior to the epidemic in systems – like supply chains, salaries and supervision – to support community health workers and nurses, facility-based delivery dropped by only 3% compared to a 300% decrease nationwide. What works best in an emergency may not be an emergency system per se — but a robust and resilient everyday health-care system that reaches the most vulnerable before threats emerge.”

He continued:

“Immediate relief efforts are essential – especially channeled through existing partners with flexible funding. But Liberia’s response to Ebola and COVID-19 reminds us to look beyond short-term Band-Aids and scale support to transform systems for the long term. Systems change comes not from focusing on short-term fixes over a few months, but from making long-term investments that last many years. We’re all in this together.”

Read the full article here.

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