Dr Waheed Arian, an Afghanistan-born NHS doctor who lives in Chester, UK, has beaten worldwide competition to win the 2018 Rotary International Peace Award for Arian Teleheal, his lifesaving social media healthcare charity.
Arian Teleheal uses volunteer doctors from the UK (NHS) and US plus other countries to advise their colleagues in war zones and low resource countries using encrypted social media, enabling real-time discussions on the best available care for patients. The charity has been credited with saving dozens of lives in Afghanistan and Syria.
Dr Arian will also announce an expansion into Africa. Pilot schemes in conjunction with Health Education England will start in rural areas of Uganda and South Africa, and more African and Asian countries are planned.
Dr Arian came to the UK aged 15 as a refugee from the Afghan conflict and, against all odds, gained a place at Cambridge University to study medicine. Graduating with awards from Harvard and Imperial, he worked as a doctor at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, UK, while establishing and growing Arian Teleheal, which now has 100 volunteer doctors. His remarkable rise has been described as beating odds of one-in-a-million by commentators.
Dr Arian said: “I founded Arian Teleheal so that people in terrible conditions around the world could benefit from world-class healthcare through using everyday technology. Our aim is to help local doctors give their patients the best possible care.
“However, by doing this we are also bringing communities together who would otherwise never meet – an off-duty doctor using her smartphone in her own flat to help save the life of a young boy in Kabul. They’ll never meet, but his parents know how she has helped, building a connection between these communities which will last forever.
“In addition to our clinical advice, we are increasing our educational sessions for doctors overseas, strengthening the links between people. Our volunteer doctors thoroughly deserve this International Peace Award, which is for all of them, and all the doctors in the countries they help.”
The UK doctors who volunteer also learn from their colleagues overseas, particularly in how they face the challenges of working with very limited resources, which can drive innovation. As a result, Dr Arian has also been appointed as a NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow, with the aim of making best use of NHS resources through learning from overseas doctors.
The Rotary International Peace Award is awarded by Rotary International, which has 1.2 million members in 35,000 clubs across the globe. Dr Arian was presented with the award at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod on the evening of the Thursday 5 July 2018. Previous winners include Medicins Sans Frontieres.