Synergy | Alberta and Aga Khan Universities explore ways to strengthen health systems in Africa and Asia

Collaboration roadmap will help advance international strategy as Alberta’s premier Universities (University of Calgary and Alberta University) forge strategic partnerships with Aga Khan Development Network associated Health Institutions (Aga Khan University and French Medical Institute for Children).

“Our global health expertise and strong ties with the Aga Khan Development Network enable us to match our strengths to the health-care needs they are working to fill in Central Asia  … The collaboration with Aga Khan University and the University of Alberta will create synergies that will help solve global challenges related to health care in remote areas.”

Dru Marshall, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), University of Calgary

“We want to build capacity overseas, bring top-notch clinical knowledge and innovative training technologies such as simulations to the education institutions and hospitals we own in Karachi, Nairobi and Kabul.”

– Salim Hasham, Vice-President, Health Services, Aga Khan University

Aga Khan University representatives visit the Cumming School of Medicine simulation lab. From left: Salim Hasham, Farzana Karim-Haji, Aziz Jan, Keith Cash, Farhat Abbas, Lee Hilling and Khalil Shariff. Photo by Daniela Andrei, University of Calgary International
Aga Khan University representatives visit the Cumming School of Medicine simulation lab. From left: Salim Hasham, Farzana Karim-Haji, Aziz Jan, Keith Cash, Farhat Abbas, Lee Hilling and Khalil Shariff. Photo by Daniela Andrei, University of Calgary International

Utoday, October 24, 2014

Representatives from the University of Calgary, University of Alberta and Aga Khan University convened to discuss collaboration opportunities to strengthen health systems in Central Asia, in a two-day workshop recently held at the University of Calgary.

Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic) welcomed attendees and provided an overview of the university’s international strategy and international development goals and the importance of partnerships in solving global challenges. Aga Khan University’s provost, Greg Moran, and University of Alberta’s special projects manager, Gregory Mack further drove the discussion towards the tri-partite partnership and what each university brings to the table in terms of interests and capabilities in health-systems development, education and research.

Participants then focused on the Central Asian economic, social and health-care capacity-building work done in Afghanistan by the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), and the Aga Khan University and potential strategies for research and academic collaborations in Central Asia. Greg Moran, Lee Hilling and Aziz Jan presented on the work FMIC has done in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“This workshop is a great example of how we can expand international education and research partnerships to address global health issues.”

Jon Meddings, Dean, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

At the end of the workshop, attendees toured the Foothills campus and visited the lab where medical students perform real and virtual dissections with the use of the LINDSAY Virtual Human 3D interactive computer application. The LINDSAY project provides a collection of biological models and computational tools for anatomy and physiology research, learning and simulations. There is also a web-enabled version to help medical schools in developing countries teach anatomy.

Representatives of the Aga Khan University felt that this application would be very helpful to train medical personnel in Central Asia and Africa.

“During the workshop we came up with a lot of creative ideas for joint education and research opportunities that can improve the quality of health systems in Africa and Asia. It’s very exciting.”

– Khalil Shariff, CEO, Aga Khan Foundation in Canada.

“Aga Khan University has been very successful because of our strong partnerships and we want to develop this tri-partite partnership with the University of Calgary and University of Alberta to the next level.”

– Farzana Karim-Haji, Director, University Partnerships, Aga Khan University.

“We look forward to working with the Aga Khan University and Foundation and the University of Alberta to help strengthen health-care systems in Central Asia and Africa.”

– Janaka Ruwanpura, Vice-Provost (International).

The workshop participants have agreed to build a collaboration roadmap as a follow-up to the workshop. Additionally, the University of Calgary hosted an interactive Aga Khan Foundation seminar entitled Youth (Un)Employment: Global Problems Meet Local Solutions, at the University of Calgary campus.


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