In 2003, Liberia emerged from more than a decade of civil war. After so many years of violence, the country’s health infrastructure was devastated. Only 50 doctors remained to treat a population of more than 4 million people. If you got sick in the city, you stood a chance. But if you got sick in remote villages – many of which are days away from the nearest clinic – you could die anonymously of a treatable condition like malaria, a complicated childbirth or even diarrhea.
In 2007, a group of Liberian civil war survivors and American health workers came together to address these issues. Raj Panjabi, Alphonso Mouwon, Weafus Quitoe, Marcus Kudee, Theo Neewrayson, and Amisha Raja co-founded a new organization committed to seeking truth and justice for Liberia’s rural poor. They called themselves Tiyatien Health, which means “justice in health” in a local Liberian language. Joined by Peter Luckow in 2009, Tiyatien Health began Liberia’s first rural public HIV program treating patients in a gutted closet in a war-torn building in Zwedru, Liberia with only $6,000 in seed money.
Almost immediately, Raj, Alphonso, Weafus, Theo, Marcus, Amisha, Peter, and their growing team realized the greatest needs were in Liberia’s last mile, where people in remote villages couldn’t access health care due to distance and poverty. Their solution was to create a new workforce of community health professionals by recruiting, training, equipping, managing, and employing community members to provide health care in their own villages and then link them to the local primary health system.
In 2013, with a refined focus and ambitious vision for the future, Tiyatien Health became Last Mile Health. Since those early days, Last Mile Health has grown from a small team working out of a closet to a global organization that serves as a dedicated partner to the Liberia Ministry of Health. Yet the mission – to save lives in the world’s most remote villages – has never wavered.
Around the world, one billion people lack access to care because they live too far from a health facility. Today, Last Mile Health is more committed than ever to bridging the gap between clinics and remote villages, bringing primary health services to the doorsteps of people living in the last mile.