From Kibra slum to league of world's top 100 pathologists
- The Jamhuri High School alumnus was this week named among the 100 personalities around the world recognised for advancing medical laboratory science practice.
- Dr Kalebi was also recognised for advancing pathology research and education.
Dr Ahmed Kalebi has come a long way from his humble upbringing in Nairobi’s Kibra slums to become a major player in the fast-changing world of pathology.
The Jamhuri High School alumnus was this week named among the 100 personalities around the world recognised for advancing medical laboratory science practice and strengthening evidence-based diagnosis and management of illnesses.
A founding partner, chief executive officer and chief consultant pathologist at Lancet Group of Laboratories, East Africa, Dr Kalebi was included in ‘the 2019 Power List’ compiled by a global panel of judges and published in the Pathologist, a specialist industry publication.
Dr Kalebi, who is also a University of Nairobi honorary lecturer, become the only personality from Sub-Saharan Africa in this year’s ‘Power List’ that has been put together annually by judges since 2017 and published by the UK & US-based publication.
“Ahmed has successfully brought affordable, quality, and accessible pathology services across the region. He was nominated for the positive impact he has had on medical practice, pathology resident education, and research in Africa,” the judges concluded.
Dr Kalebi is quoted by the Pathologist describing how he branched into the field while undertaking his Bachelors in Medicine from the University of Nairobi during an elective term in Durban, South Africa: “I had my epiphany moment when I was told to look at a Merkel cell tumour. I saw the proverbial light down the microscope and realised that pathology provides the diagnosis and enables appropriate patient management. I immediately decided that I wanted to become a pathologist rather than a surgeon,” he said.
Dr Kalebi was also recognised for advancing pathology research and education. This is due to the training he conducts across Kenya and other parts of Africa while mentoring pathology trainees and providing opportunities for medical research at Lancet Labs.
He is a doctor of many firsts having served briefly at the then Garissa Provincial General Hospital, becoming the first pathologist to serve in the hospital.
Having been brought up by his single mother in a tough environment, Dr Kalebi pushed himself to be outstanding from his high school days to university.
He undertook his undergraduate medical degree and postgraduate training in General Pathology at the University of Nairobi (UoN) followed by a fellowship in Anatomical pathology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The man who describes himself as a workaholic founded Lancet Kenya in 2009 as a subsidiary of Lancet Laboratories South Africa. Since then, Lancet’s human and veterinary lab services have become available across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lancet has been providing laboratory test services for various leading research organisations and institutions including postgraduate research students in local universities as well as clinical trials.
Lancet, which employs more than 600 people, introduced various specialised tests in the region that previously had to be done abroad. This has reduced the time and costs of diagnosing illnesses and increased the ability of doctors to manage patients locally.
After conquering the East Africa pathology space, Dr Kalebi turned his sights to emerging markets in Africa by partnering with several private, public and faith-based health facilities in the region to provide accredited lab diagnosis of illnesses to low-income areas at subsidised rates.
Dr Kalebi was the founding secretary of the East African Division of International Academy of Pathology in 2008 and became its president in 2016 to date.
He is also the founding steering chair of the College of Pathologists of East, Central, and Southern Africa.
He has received several awards in the past including the Young Achievers Award from the Association of Pathologists of East, Central and Southern Africa in 2006 and the inaugural ‘Top 40 Under 40 Men’ by Business Daily newspaper in 2012.
Dr Kalebi is also the President of the East African Division of the International Academy of Pathology, an international professional association that facilitates educational exchange in pathology worldwide.