‘Silver lining’ to Ebola crisis, doctor says

     Dr. Raj Panjabi, co-founder of Last Mile Health, shares the stage with humanitarian Hugh Evans and supermodel Petra Nemcova during a panel discussion on saving the world at the Forbes Under 30 Summit. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Dr. Raj Panjabi, co-founder of Last Mile Health, shares the stage with humanitarian Hugh Evans and supermodel Petra Nemcova during a panel discussion on saving the world at the Forbes Under 30 Summit. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    A doctor working at the front lines of the Ebola epidemic said Monday there is a silver lining to the outbreak.

    “Ebola is not a death sentence. The mortality rate that we’re witnessing, 70 percent in this current outbreak, higher in other outbreaks, is a myth,” said Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health.

    “The five American aid workers that have been evacuated with the same disease contracted in the same place have all survived,” Panjabi said. “The thousands of fellow people from my country, in Liberia, thousands of them have died.”

    Last Mile Health has been training health care workers in rural Liberian villages since 2007. 

    “We’re the same human beings attacked by the same virus,” Panjabi said. “If we got the same health care we would have the same survival rates.”

    Panjabi said best way to protect Americans from getting the disease is not to shut down travel from West Africa, but provide health care for residents of even the most remote villages in that region.

    His organization is expanding its efforts more than tenfold from its most recent training initiative to reach 500 villages in coming months.

    Panjabi spoke at the Forbes Under 30 summit in Philadelphia Monday.

    The summit, in its first year, brought more than 1,000 young entrepreneurs from across the United States to Philadelphia for panels, a pitch contest, and music and food festivals. Among invited attendees were members of the Forbes “30 Under 30” lists from the past three years.

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