Last Mile Health co-founder and CEO Raj Panjabi said it is vital to ensure all health workers are given enough personal protective gear to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in an interview with Devex, Panjabi said community health workers in some African countries are being sent out without even a mask — something he called “absolutely unacceptable.”
“This is the lowest class of health workers; it’s the one that’s been the most underrecognized and undervalued. But it’s absolutely unacceptable for us not to have protective equipment,” Panjabi said in the conversation with Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar.
“A nurse or a community health worker without a mask is like a soldier without a helmet,” said Panjabi, a prominent champion of community health workers — the core focus of the NGO he co-founded in his native Liberia.
In the interview, Panjabi noted that even the World Health Organization’s estimates for the quantity of masks and gloves for low- and middle-income countries do not take community health workers into account.
More interviews with humanitarian leaders on COVID-19. Watch:
• How Jan Egeland sees the crisis developing
• Mark Dybul calls for global task force
• Amref Health Africa CEO on the impact on NGO finances
• Former OFDA chief gives Trump administration a ‘D’ on response
• How behavioral science is changing the response
Visit our dedicated COVID-19 page for news, job opportunities, and funding insights.