Biden appoints Dr. Raj Panjabi to spearhead malaria initiative


US President Joe Biden has appointed Indian-origin public health professional Raj Panjabi to head his Malaria Initiative working mainly in African and Asian countries.

Taking to the social media platform, Twitter, Panjabi said he is honored and ‘grateful for this chance to serve’. He also wrote about the mission to eliminate Malaria and about his family, who fled Liberia during the civil war and arrived in the US as refugees during the 1990s, in a series of tweets.

He began with, saying, “After being sworn in this morning, I’m honored to share that I’ve been appointed by @POTUS as the President’s Malaria Coordinator to lead the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (@PMIgov). I’m grateful for this chance to serve.”

Being a public health professional, who has taken care of patients with staffers of the President’s Malaria Initiative, as well as its partners the USAID and the Centre for Disease Control, Panjabi added, “I’ve been inspired by how they’ve responded to fight malaria, one of the oldest and deadliest pandemics, and saved lives around the world.”

“In the face of unprecedented crises, I am humbled by the challenges our country and our world face to build back better. But as I have learned in America: we are not defined by the conditions we face, we are defined by how we respond,” Panjabi said.

He also expressed that his mission to fight malaria is a personal one as he saw his grandparents and parents infected with the disease when they lived in India. He fell sick with the disease himself in Liberia, and saw it take many lives as a doctor in Africa, he continued.

Panjabi led the ‘Last Mile Health’ to support administrations in Africa to train frontline health workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, made significant contributions in the fight against the 2013-16 West Africa Ebola epidemic and has served as the advisor to former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response at the WHO, reports noted.

Raj Panjabi’s appointment comes among the various appointments of Indian-American health professionals, including Dr Vivek Murthy, in Joe Biden’s administration.

He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, trained in internal medicine and primary care at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and received a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins. He has served as a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Panjabi was named as one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2016, one of TIME’s 50 Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018, received the 2017 TED Prize, and was listed as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune in 2015 and in 2017.