In Covid-19 Crisis, This Doctor is Kashmir’s New Hope


Junaid Nabi

As the world is fighting one of the biggest health crises in human history, a US-based Kashmiri healthcare specialist is trying to help Covid-19 efforts in his homeland. The initiative is seen as a major global boost in local efforts.

 Mrinal Pathak

As Covid-19 health crisis is deepening across the world, a crucial medical intervention evolving in America has Kashmir written all over it.

And the man playing an important role in it is a Kashmiri physician-turned-entrepreneur.

Coming across as a quintessential commoner of the valley, Junaid Nabi defies the image of a global soldier fighting the invisible enemy.

The young doctor is currently supporting a Harvard-MIT team working with local doctors and engineers to design and develop affordable ventilators to increase the capacity of respiratory therapy in Kashmiri community.

As someone who believes that machine learning has an important role in Covid-19, Junaid works as a public health researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The health professional is presently working to detect useful patterns in the large inflow of public health data generated across the world by the current crisis.

Much of his insights and acumen, he says, comes from his growing up experience in Kashmir, a society marred with social, economic, and healthcare disparities.

Junaid, who hasn’t been able to get back to Kashmir since 2017, has a vast experience of working with the health systems in the developing countries and his strength in the current direction is driven by his passion for medical science.

While in Kashmir, Junaid had worked with a few non-profit organizations. This is when, he says, he noticed that clinical medicine does not answer all the questions clinical work asks.

The entrepreneur is trying hard for machine learning algorithms to find connections that can be further used to inform clinical decision-making.

Junaid with American veteran journalist Bob Schieffer

As an Aspen New Voices Fellow, Junaid believes machine learning can play an important role in the current health crisis.

However, he asserts, there’s Covid-19 under-reporting in Kashmir, as the valley’s unique geopolitical status has given rise to several disadvantaged groups both in city and countryside.

But as rural populace is most vulnerable to the viral pandemic, Junaid’s efforts have come up as a boon to bridge a gap between the socio-economic disparity and the fractured health services in the region.

Apart from doing research, the healthcare specialist has inspired many young Kashmiri minds to come up with a good number of innovations in healthcare system.

Junaid believes that the cloud of pandemic has given birth to collaboration between Kashmiri engineers and doctors to design life-saving devices that can increase the capacity of a limited number of ventilators in the valley.

Limited resources, he says, have induced a spirit of innovation among these young Kashmiri professionals.

In times like these, Junaid’s initiative, a perfect blend of medical science and technology, has turned to be a shimmering hope, not just for the people of Kashmir but for the entire human society.

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Mrinal Pathak

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