Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 June 2001 -- His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and founder of one of the largest private networks of healthcare institutions in the developing world, this evening received the prestigious Archon Award from the international nursing honour society, Sigma Theta Tau International. The Award Ceremony took place as delegates from around the world gathered in Copenhagen for the 12th International Nursing Research Congress and the International Council of Nurses’ 22nd Quadrennial Congress.
The Archon Awards - from the Greek word meaning "first to lead" - are granted biennially to individuals who, regardless of their profession, have made health advocacy a major aspect of their lives and whose efforts have created significant change that is far-reaching in scope.
The Award citation highlighted the Aga Khan’s “leadership in promoting global health and welfare and for his compassionate support of nursing and nursing research in developing countries.”
Calling the occasion “a unique moment – not only for nursing, but for health care,” the Society’s President Patricia Thompson described the Aga Khan as a “remarkable individual who during the course of his distinguished life, continues to leave upon world health, the indelible mark of a world class leader.”
cknowledging the honour accorded him, the Aga Khan said that he had “long felt the enhancement of the nursing profession to be absolutely critical to the improvement of health care in the developing world and the Islamic world.” He emphasised his view that “the way forward was to professionalise, to institutionalise and to dignify” nursing in Asia and Africa.
Past recipients of the Archon Awards have included Dr.Jonas Salk, Elizabeth Dole, Dr. C. Everett Koop and Dame Cicely Saunders.
Sigma Theta Tau International is a 79-year-old, quarter million-member honour society whose mission is to improve the health of people worldwide by improving nursing scholarship. Members include practicing nurses, instructors, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and others.
The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, international, non-denominational agencies seeking to improve opportunities and living conditions in specific regions of the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa. They include: the Aga Khan Health Services, which operate more than 170 health facilities and five tertiary care hospitals; the Aga Khan Foundation, which makes grants that promote improvements in health policies, financing mechanisms and basic services which help communities adopt effective health practices; and the Aga Khan University, the first private university in Pakistan, which concentrates on research, professional education in nursing, medicine and education, and which has begun an Advanced Nursing Studies Programme in East Africa.
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