Aga Khan University Announces
the Faculty of Health Sciences in East Africa
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Nairobi, Kenya, 13 August 2007 – His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, accompanied by Professor George Saitoti, Kenyan Minister for Education, today inaugurated the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Aga Khan University (AKU-FHS) – East Africa’s first premier private medical school.
The US $250 million health sciences campus to be established in Nairobi, aims to provide international standard education for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. It will comprise a Medical College, a School of Nursing and allied health programmes and will offer degrees at bachelors, masters and PhD levels. The Faculty aims to build local capacity and will enable implementation of health care services with world class infrastructure and quality. The campus will consist of academic facilities, student residences and amenities which will include a library, student centre and auditorium as well as sports facilities. In addition, significant expansion of the hospital will also take place to support the growth in academic programmes.
Speaking at the launch of the Faculty, the Aga Khan, who is also founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), commented, “Building on the success of its existing programmes – the Aga Khan University is planning to establish a new Faculty of Health Sciences here in Nairobi. To my knowledge, this will be the first private sector university in Eastern Africa to create a full-fledged Faculty of Health Sciences offering under-graduate and post-graduate degrees in Medicine, Nursing and the allied health sciences”.
The Faculty is the first social development initiative announced by the Aga Khan as part of his Golden Jubilee celebrations, marking his 50 years as the Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
In keeping with the Aga Khan University’s overall vision in Africa, to provide quality healthcare and education in the region, the AKU-FHS will focus on producing effective leaders in health care through professional health education, engaging in best practices and developing self sustaining models of health care delivery. In addition, the AKU-FHS will promote relevant high impact research, particularly in the areas of health services and epidemiology that will have an impact on influencing health policy.
Kenya’s Education Minister Professor George Saitoti, said the Aga Khan initiative could not come at a better time. “Our public universities are able to absorb only about 10,000 students each year, representing 20 to 26 percent of candidates who attain a mean grade of C+ and above,” he said. The minister noted that the government attached particular importance to health and education in its long-term Economic Recovery Strategy. “Health and education are key sectors we have identified as pillars in the vision 2030,” he said .
Work on the new Faculty’s Heart and Cancer Centre is expected to commence later this year. This US $40 million initiative will replace and enhance existing facilities in surgery, obstetrics, critical care and imaging, and provide facilities for the tertiary treatment services in cardiology and cancer. The Centre will serve communities in the Eastern Africa region and will enable the hospital to educate residents and nurses in an innovative, technology-enabled teaching environment.
The Aga Khan University (AKU) was established and chartered in 1983 as an international university within the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions working together to improve living conditions and opportunities in over 30 of the poorest countries in the developing world. The University has 11 teaching sites in 8 countries, including the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi which has been in operation in Nairobi for over 50 years under the aegis of the Aga Khan Health Services. The transition to the Aga Khan University Hospital commenced in 2005 with a vision of becoming a premier tertiary, teaching and referral hospital serving sub-Saharan Africa.
Today one-third of the total AKU student body worldwide is enrolled in academic programmes in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The Advanced Nursing Studies Programme delivers certificate and degree programmes to upgrade the quality of nursing in all three countries, while Postgraduate Medical Education Programmes in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam provide advanced training to aspiring medical specialists. In addition, the University has launched the Institute of Educational Development also in Dar es Salaam to enable teachers to upgrade their capabilities by learning from innovative curriculum design, pedagogy and assessment.
The AKU is committed to the development of leaders in East Africa, and pays particular attention to equipping them with critical thinking and problem solving skills to enable them to address the challenges facing their own communities and societies; at full capacity, there will be 3000 students. In developing the multiple campuses and new programmes in East Africa, AKU will invest over $700 million in the region over the next fifteen years, providing direct employment to approximately 4,000 people on an ongoing basis.