Jasdeep Sandhu spent several years of his childhood in India. His extended family lived on a modest farm in the village of Sarhali Kalan in Panjab, and Jasdeep still remembers the oppressive heat. Despite the challenging conditions, though, day-to-day life was pleasant, and his grandparents happily raised chickens and tended to the kids.
But the rural location of the farm wasn’t always ideal. When Jasdeep’s grandfather became ill, for example, it was over an hour drive to the nearest clinic.
“We owned only two scooters and would have to wait until the weekend to go into town,” says Jasdeep. “When someone was ill, we only had warm milk or salt in water to try to deal with [it].”
Sadly, his grandfather passed away from complications due to Type II diabetes, and a short while later, Jasdeep’s grandmother died of tetanus. Both are often common conditions that, in developed nations, can be managed or prevented—and that could have had different outcomes with better access to healthcare.
Avoid Repeating Painful Pasts
When Jasdeep asked his mother more about his family history, he was surprised to discover his own late grandparents also suffered similar losses, “My grandparents lost their parents when they were young kids because of a lack of vaccines—they died of small pox,” he explains. “It’s something that could have been easily avoided.”
Jasdeep, however, was the first generation of his family to be born in the U.S. and the first to receive life-saving vaccines as a baby. Although he spent only part of his childhood in India, the experience left a lasting impression on him about how access to medicine can save lives.
Fast forward to today, and now Jasdeep is a procurement associate for healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline.
A large part of his job? Looking for solutions to make vaccines more accessible.
A Career That Saves Lives
One of the big concerns for healthcare access is temperature control, as vaccinations and other medications can be less potent if not stored properly. Jasdeep’s direct work effects how efficiently these products are brought to end patients, some of whom also live in extreme climates such as India, part of Africa, and South America.
“It’s not just chocolate or tires, we manage life-saving products that need to be distributed in time and on the regular. It’s really people at the end of our supply chain I think about the most,” he shares.
His role is to work closely with manufacturing locations throughout North and South America to solve problems and ensure production can continue quickly and efficiently. After all, if the vaccines don’t get out in time, there can be short supplies on hand to the most vulnerable populations—something that, along with the memories of his grandparents, drives Jasdeep every day.
In fact, he believes it will drive him for the rest of his life.
“My grandparents couldn’t get vaccines and it was too late,” Jasdeep remembers. “I don’t ever want to leave healthcare now, as I can see first-hand what a positive impact the industry is having on our futures.”
Photo of family courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Eileen is a London-based freelance writer, originally from Boston. She's a contributor all over the web and can't say no to a great glass of prosecco. She falls down a lot in yoga class. You can follow her personal blog Crooked Flight and group travel adventures on Pure Wander.More from this Author