Raising the alarm:

A conversation on preventing the next global health crisis with Raj Panjabi

September 21, 2021 — 12 P.M. ET | 6 P.M. CET


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About the Event

On Tuesday, September 21, Devex hosted a live conversation with Raj Panjabi, the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator and co-founder of NGO Last Mile Health. This conversation, led by Sara Jerving, global health reporter for Devex and part of Devex’s UHC Pavilion, cames as global leaders met for the 76th United Nations General Assembly. High on the UNGA agenda was how to address the current COVID-19 pandemic and how to prevent the next global health crisis.

A longstanding champion of health care workers, Raj Panjabi recently wrote in a Time article that “preventing the next pandemic depends on a standing army of health workers within communities.” What is the global community doing to fortify this army? On the occasion of the 76th U.N. General Assembly, what commitments can governments make to ensure that health workers everywhere are supported, protected and prepared to raise the alarm when signs of the next pandemic emerge?

This event included live captioning.

UHC Pavilion


12:00 p.m. ET

Opening Remarks by Sara Jerving, Global Health Reporter, Devex

12:05 p.m. ET

One-on-One Interview


• Dr. Raj Panjabi, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, USAID

• Sara Jerving, Global Health Reporter, Devex

12:40 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat


• Polly Dunford, President & CEO, IntraHealth International

• Sara Jerving, Global Health Reporter, Devex

12:50 p.m. ET

Closing Remarks by Sara Jerving, Global Health Reporter, Devex


Dr. Raj Panjabi

Dr. Raj Panjabi

U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, USAID

Dr. Raj Panjabi was appointed by President Joe Biden to lead the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative in February 2021. Born in Liberia, Dr. Panjabi settled in the United States after fleeing civil war at age nine. Before joining PMI, Dr. Panjabi served as CEO of Last Mile Health, an award-winning nonprofit he founded in 2007. At Last Mile Health, he enabled community and frontline health workers to deliver life-saving care—including for malaria, COVID-19, Ebola, and other diseases—to the world’s most remote places. He also served as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and advisor for the World Health Organization’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. Dr. Panjabi is a recognized thought leader and social entrepreneur passionate about building rural health systems and ending epidemics. TIME magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World and 50 Most Influential People in Healthcare. He has also been listed as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune and is a recipient of the $1 million TED Prize.

Polly Dunford

Polly Dunford

President and CEO, IntraHealth International

Polly Dunford is president and CEO at IntraHealth International. She has almost 20 years of experience with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Cambodia, Haiti, Jordan, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Washington, most recently serving as global director for HIV/AIDS. In this role, she led the agency’s efforts to help countries achieve and sustain epidemic control of HIV/AIDS under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Sara Jerving

Sara Jerving

Global Health Reporter, Devex

Sara Jerving is a Global Health Reporter based in Nairobi. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, and Bloomberg News, among others. Sara holds a master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2018, part of a Vice News Tonight on HBO team that received an Emmy nomination in 2018 and received the Philip Greer Memorial Award from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2014. She has reported from over a dozen countries.