HCN News & Notes

AIC’s Dr. Said Nafai to Receive International Service Award

SPRINGFIELD — Dr. Said Nafai, professor of Occupational Therapy at American International College (AIC), has been selected to receive the American Occupational Therapy Assoc. (AOTA) International Service Award at the 2020 annual conference in Boston in March.

The AOTA International Service Award recognizes occupational therapists who demonstrate a sustained, outstanding commitment to international service in this field; promote and advance occupational therapy abroad in regard to occupational health and/or occupational justice in underserved countries, thereby promoting a globally connected community; and provide incentive to extend international relationships and contributions to address global health issues. 

Nafai, known as the ‘father of occupational therapy’ in his home country of Morocco, returns several times a year to volunteer, teach, and raise awareness of occupational therapy as a profession and a tool for empowering people of all ages who face physical, cognitive, or behavioral challenges. Students and faculty from across the U.S. and Europe frequently accompany him to learn about Morocco’s healthcare system.

Among his credits, Nafai is the Moroccan delegate to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists; co-founder of the OT Project in Morocco; founder and president of the Occupational Therapy Assoc. of Morocco; vice president of Emmanuel’s Dream, a nonprofit for children with special needs; and a board member of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, which currently has the most co-sponsored healthcare bill in the U.S. Congress. Passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act would ensure access to compression garments and other vital tools for managing lymphedema.

Nafai has been invited to speak at the University of New England in Maine at the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Program, addressing 13 different health professions on the topic of “Considerations in Working with Muslims and Interprofessional Team Members.” Additionally, he was an invited speaker at the Lymphedema Symposium at Harvard University Medical School in 2018, and has been requested by the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in the “Global Report on Assistive Technology.” Further, he chairs a yearly conference in Morocco that features presenters from five continents.

According to AIC Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, “Dr. Nafai has dedicated his career to bringing awareness of OT as a life-changing intervention around the globe. Occupational therapy is a specialty in healthcare that finds solutions to myriad unique challenges, things that many of us take for granted. We are indeed fortunate at AIC to have a devoted professor and mentor in Dr. Nafai, who is deeply committed to making lives better. While he and his students provide OT services free of charge to communities near AIC, his passion and dedication extend to the global community as well.”