On Saturday, October 14, 2017, mClinica founder and CEO Farouk Meralli was honored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health during its Alumni Association Awards with its Public Health Innovator Award. Meralli graduated from Harvard in 2009 and returned to this event as the youngest recipient in the award’s history at only 31 years of age.
The Public Health Innovator was one of only three mid-career awards given at the Alumni Association Awards. The other two awardees were Henry-Jen Su, the president and distinguished professor from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, who received a Leadership Award in Public Health Practice, and Teresa Chahine, the innovation advisor for Alfanar Venture Philanthropy, who received an Emerging Leader in Public Health Award.
During his acceptance speech in front of the illustrious crowd of alumni and fellow awardees, Meralli reflected back on an early moment in his career when he was relaxing in San Francisco Bay, back when he was still an employee at pharmaceutical company Roche.
“I looked at this blue body of water and said to myself, ‘Am I living my personal mission? Am I really doing what I set out to do for public health?’ And the answer was no. While we were doing great things at Roche, it was very incremental. I did not feel like I was doing anything truly transformational – what I wanted to do was solve problems no one had really tried to solve because they were difficult,” he said.
Meralli then recalled his move to Asia, inspired by the idea of connecting thousands of pharmacies together and provide new sources of global health data. Though the journey was not easy, Meralli and his young team were soon able to grow mClinica across the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Meralli credited his experiences at Harvard as shaping him into a leader that could tackle the large problems that mClinica addresses across Southeast Asia. In particular, he praised the school for turning him into a leader who could not simply accept the status quo in healthcare.
“We should be uncomfortable about what is going on around us in healthcare and how we should spend our lives solving these problems. Sometimes, comfortable isn’t a good thing. I’d like to thank the school for giving me the passion and the purpose to go after these very large problems and try to do things that are transformational and not just incremental,” he said.
The citation for Meralli’s Public Health Innovator Award attested to mClinica’s success so far at solving these large problems in healthcare. “Since its inception, mClinica has connected over 10,000 pharmacies across Asia, providing access to 80 million patients and generating over 3 billion data records,” the citation read.
A full video of the awarding and Meralli’s acceptance speech can be found here: