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From Passion to Action

Rehan's quest to lead a life dedicated to public health.

Rehan Adamjee selected for the One Young World Pakistan Awards 2018.

What are you most passionate about? I am passionate about improving the state of public health delivery in Pakistan. Out of every 1,000 live births in Pakistan, 79 children do not live to see their 5th birthday. The majority of these deaths occur at birth and the first 4 weeks of life, and the two major causes of the remaining child mortality are diarrhoea and pneumonia. Of the children who do live to see their 5th birthday, nearly 45% are stunted by the age of 2, which means they will grow up to be permanently disadvantaged as members of the workforce.

What efforts have you made to resolve this issue? My efforts are focused on developing public health delivery models that will help reduce childhood mortality and morbidity in Pakistan by leveraging my research background at Stanford University, and partnering with committed researchers and practitioners locally and internationally.

Can you tell us about your work with Sukoon Water? I currently serve as founder and director of Sukoon Water. At Sukoon Water, we aim to establish decentralized water treatment facilities in or near low income urban areas of Pakistan and build local distribution systems to increase access to and usage of safe drinking water in the communities. Sukoon Water’s pilot treatment plant served nearly 1.5 million liters of WHO compliant drinking water last year in Gulshan-e-Sikandarabad Colony, Karachi and is on track to serve more than 2 million liters this year. Ultimately, Sukoon Water’s impact will be determined by not only increasing access to safe water but ensuring consistent usage and safe handling of the water at the household level. I hope that the foundation we are laying will contribute to long-term impact on both these fronts.

How many people do you think you have positively impacted with Sukoon Water? Our pilot facility in Gulshan-e-Sikandarabad Colony, Karachi, has been operational since August 2016 and sold nearly 1.5 million liters of safe drinking water in 2017. Sukoon Water has a network of over 60 community based stores, and 22 clinics that are served through its pilot facility. The plant impacts the lives of between 2,500 and 3,000 people daily. Sukoon Water’s target is to supply over 2 million liters of safe drinking water in 2018.

What are your plans to further increase your social impact over the next two years in regards to Sukoon Water? I plan to increase my impact by continuing my work at Sukoon Water, refining and testing the model, and positioning it for scale to other communities in Pakistan. This will help give me exposure to the unique challenges faced by different communities in Karachi and potentially allow me to develop a foundation for city wide and national impact on child health outcomes through increasing access to and ensuring usage of safe drinking water.

Can you tell us more about your work with health care in Pakistan? Beyond my work with Sukoon Water, I have served an advisor to Childlife Foundation, the largest provider of pediatric emergency care in Pakistan (it will provide healthcare to 1 million low income children annually starting 2019 ). After a summer internship in Bangladesh at BRAC I facilitated a partnership between the two organizations that resulted in a three-year pilot project to improve community based mother and child health in a low income community of Karachi. This partnership helped Childlife Foundation diversity its portfolio from emergency care to preventive health and increase its upstream impact on child health in Pakistan.

I have recently been appointed as the youngest Trustee at VITAL Trust, an organization founded and chaired by Dr. Anita Zaidi, director of the diarrheal and enteric diseases program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former chair of pediatrics at Aga Khan University. The objective of VITAL trust is to reduce child mortality by two thirds in selected coastal peri urban areas of Karachi. I am contributing to VITAL’s work by bringing entrepreneurial and innovative thinking to inform VITAL’s program in Rehri Goth, a small fishing community on the outskirts of Karachi. This is allowing me to broaden my impact beyond safe water and explore areas like vaccine delivery, safe birth, family planning and nutrition. The work will also give me a platform to test out innovative ideas specifically in the area of reducing neonatal mortality and stunting.

Can you tell me more about your work with the youth in Pakistan? I teach a course on healthcare delivery to a high school students in Pakistan, which involves case studies, reflection exercises, and field work. I also recently taught a seminar to over a 100 third year medical students at Aga Khan University Hospital on social accountability and responsibility. I have received very positive feedback on the class and the seminar and hope to continue my work in the coming year with even more students. My hope is that these students will be inspired to dedicate their time and energies to Pakistan’s pressing healthcare problems.

What are your aspirations for the future aspirations? My aspiration is to be in a position to provide young people in Pakistan the platform to commit their lives to public service.

What do you hope to gain from participating in the One Young World Summit 2018? Firstly, I hope to learn about the wide range of tools available to young people globally to act towards shared objectives, as well as understand how youth navigate the internal tension that arises from the need to sustain oneself financially while remaining honest to one’s desire to engage in public service. Secondly, I’d like to share stories about Pakistan, representing my country in a positive yet nuanced light. Finally, I’d like to learn about the development, economic and social challenges faced by other countries from the experiences of the delegates themselves.

How do you think the One Young World Summit will benefit you? I often lose sight of policy or advocacy tools that can open up doors for funding or technical support that can make my approach more comprehensive. I believe the summit training will give me exposure to a wider range of tools than those which I have immediate access to and make me more strategic and holistic in my thought process regarding public health or safe water delivery in Pakistan.

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