This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Bhavya Rehani, 37, and her husband, Ankur Bharija, also 37, are physicians at the top of their professions but that isn’t what inspires them. Harvard-trained Rehani practices at University of California San Francisco while Bharija is on the faculty at Stanford to the south. She is also the CEO of a nonprofit they founded, Health4TheWorld.
The 100% volunteer-led organization is working to share health information with doctors and patients around the world to improve health outcomes. Everything they offer is entirely free to the doctors, other healthcare professionals and the patients.
The pair is off to a good start. By localizing the tools for a variety of circumstances, the organization has in its first year of operation begun reaching people in 22 countries, touching 3,500 lives.
Rehani, who serves as the organization’s CEO, says, “The problem is lack of sustainable solutions to address disparities in health care especially in under-resourced communities globally. Short-term solutions which consist of traveling to these communities to provide care are noble but not sustainable and not possible for all communities worldwide.”
“We solve this problem by empowering local health care professionals in these local communities with free education, so they become champions of long-term local change to help their patients.”
Both Rehani and Bharija were born in India and were inspired to start this work to address the healthcare deficits they saw there. “My grandparents were in a small village in India and did not have access to healthcare,” Rehani says. Seeing their struggles inspired her to find sustainable solutions that would provide “long-term relief.”
One of the key tools they have created is live virtual education. Leading US doctors provide training for doctors in remote places in the world. On a recent day a Stanford Doctor was training doctors in Cameroon. After a year of such training sessions—all of which have been recorded—the organization now has a great database of training sessions that are permanently available to doctors in the developing world.
Rehani says they will soon launch a new website to host all of this content, calling it Health4TheWorld Academy.
The initial focus of Health4TheWorld was stroke. Bharija explains that the condition impacts many people around the world and is the number two killer globally. The organization produced mobile apps for both iOS and Android phones to provide education for both patients and their caregivers to improve outcomes.
Dr. Lekhjung Thapa, MD, DM (Neurology), President, Nepal Stroke Association for National Institute of Neurological and Allied Sciences, in Kathmandu, Nepal is a local partner.
He says, Rehani reached out to him before she and a team visited Nepal to introduce the program. “We have been helping people in our country to raise awareness, educate and help them in stroke treatment decision and post-stroke care through the wonderful app that Dr. Rehani and her team has designed,” he says.
“Although we focus mainly on stroke, people actually learn to live a healthy lifestyle through the risk factors reduction lesson outlined in a lucid way in the H4tW app,” Thapa says.
Helping patients to avoid or recover from stroke can improve their overall health; the activities that facilitate recovery tend to enhance many aspects of health and happiness he notes.
While acknowledging the challenges of implementing new technology in Nepal, he says the program is working. “Although we have lots of challenges regarding the use of technology, we have found one of the most exciting tools that we dreamt of, to be used in stroke patients in our community. And it’s helping both health care providers and service receivers.”
Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!
Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!