Getting beyond the exterior and superficial is part of Blugibbon’s DNA and intent.
So we are delighted to introduce the next of our “Blugibbon Bites”, a chat with Dr Lai Heng Foong.
Malaysian-born Lai Heng came to Australia in 1996 to study medicine (and established a human rights school in medical school) and has stayed ever since, albeit around multiple areas of the country including South Australia, Northern Territory, and now Sydney.
Although the bulk of her current work is in emergency medicine, her background is rooted in public health, and specifically disaster health, something that would come in handy given the COVID-19 epidemic.
Standout projects pre-COVID include work with the American Red Cross in Cambodia and Médecins Sans Frontières in Angola as well as projects with the International Emergency Medicine Group delivering training in Sri Lanka, Cuba, Vietnam, and Pakistan.
Amongst this work her career highlights included treating seriously ill families and children with MSF during the Civil War in Angola, making a huge impact on their lives as they retreated to forests to hide for years during the conflict.
In recent times Lai Heng is passionate about climate change and works to lobby the government to divest from fossil fuels and commit to Zero Emissions by 2030 and ACEM (Australasian College of Emergency Medicine) to ensure they are developing an environmental strategy and sticking to it.
Not content with just accepting the status quo, human rights are close to her heart, particularly the health of refugees, an area she believes we always do more on and her drive to highlight the work of women in medicine, contributing to the pioneering work of NoWEM (Network of Women in Emergency Medicine).
In addition, Lai managed to squeeze in sharing her expertise of COVID in the early days of the pandemic on an excellent podcast with Barry Nilsson Lawyers, sharing priceless suggestions on managing the virus as a community and as individuals.
Central to her work is providing care with compassion, addressing health inequities and social determinants of health. She hopes to continue her work in public institutions and humanitarian work while juggling life with her two beautiful children, her chocolate labrador, and cat.
Nowadays you will find her at Bankstown Hospital as a FACEM and Royal Prince Alfred as a Sexual Health VMO.