Join us as as we welcome back Dr. Kwan Kew Lai, to discuss her latest book, Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor's Memoir, with Dr. Nahreen Ahmed. Click here to register for this Zoom webinar.
About Into Africa, Out of Academia:
In 2006, Kwan Kew Lai left her full-time position as a professor in the United States to provide medical humanitarian aid to the remote villages and the war-torn areas of Africa. This memoir follows her experiences from 2006 to 2013 as she provided care during the HIV/AIDs epidemics, after natural disasters, and as a relief doctor in refugee camps in Kenya, Libya, Uganda and in South Sudan, where civil war virtually wiped out all existing healthcare facilities.
Throughout her memoir, Lai recounts intimate encounters with refugees and internally displaced people in camps and in hospitals with limited resources, telling tales of their resilience, unflinching courage, and survival through extreme hardship. Her writing provides insight into communities and transports readers to heart-achingly beautiful parts of Africa not frequented by the usual travelers. This is a deeply personal account of the huge disparities in the healthcare system of our "global village" and is a call to action for readers to understand the interconnectedness of the modern world, the needs of less developed neighbors, and the shortcomings of their healthcare systems.
Originally from Penang, Malaysia, Kwan Kew Lai came to the United States after receiving a full scholarship to attend Wellesley. “Without that open door I would not have gone on to become a doctor,” Lai wrote in her Doctors Without Borders bio.
In 2006, after volunteering in the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Lai left her position as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and worked part-time as a clinician, while dedicating her time to humanitarian work. Lai volunteered in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi and provided earthquake relief in Haiti, Nepal, drought and famine relief at the Kenyan and Somalian border, hurricane relief in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the gulf coasts. She worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Syria in Moria camp of Lesvos in Greece, and the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in war-torn Libya and Yemen. She treated Ebola patients in Liberia and Sierra Leone. During the peak of the COVID pandemic, she volunteered at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York and on St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands.
Into Africa, Out of Academia: A Doctor's Memoir is about her experiences in Africa. Her book debut, Lest We Forget: A Doctor’s Experience with Life and Death During the Ebola Outbreak was published in 2018. Lai is a resident of Belmont.
Dr. Nahreen Ahmed is originally from the Greater Philadelphia area. She attended DrexelUniversity College of Medicine and subsequently went on to residency at theUniversity of Illinois in Chicago where she concomitantly completed her MastersDegree in Public Health, and was also invited to stay on for a Chief Residency.
She went on to pursue a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical care atNYU/Bellevue, and subsequently joined the faculty at the Hospital of theUniversity of Pennsylvania where she is currently an Assistant Professor inClinical Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care as well as aPenn Center for Global Health Scholar.
She launched her Global Health Career byfounding the Bangladesh Ultrasound Initiative, a training program for criticalcare physicians in Dhaka, Bangladesh and then proceeded to become the Head of Ultrasound for two non-profits MedGlobal and Bridge to Health with whom she hasworked to bring Ultrasound training, and medical care to crisis zones such asYemen, Sierra Leone, Rohingya Refugee Camps as well as low resource hospitalsin Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Dr. Ahmed has a strong belief in capacity building with the aide of technology and telecommunications and that the key to sustainability in global medicine is via medical education and a hands-ontraining approach which empowers local clinicians.
In 2006, Kwan Kew Lai left her full-time position as a professor in the United States to provide medical humanitarian aid to the remote villages and the war-torn areas of Africa.