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|Address by His Highness the Aga Khan to the Parliament of Portugal||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/moez_visram_parliament_address_july_10_-4938-2_2300px.jpg||Lisbon, Portugal||Tuesday, 10 July 2018||1531226700||Address to the Parliament of Portugal||speech||Portugal||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/moez_visram_parliament_address_july_10_-4938-2_2300px.jpg||
Your Excellency, President of Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
Let me begin by expressing my most sincere gratitude to the President and the members of the Parliament, for your very warm welcome in this remarkable setting, and to the President of the Republic for the invitation to visit Portugal.
I recognise what a great honour it is to have been invited to speak to you today.
It is always a personal pleasure for me to return to Portugal. I treasure wonderful memories of earlier visits here - including the gracious hospitality of the last five Presidents of the Parliament. Portugal is surely an ideal place for me to conclude my Diamond Jubilee anniversary - celebrating my sixtieth year as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
During this Jubilee year, I have visited Ismaili communities in many parts of the world. And now the anniversary events come to a happy culmination here in Portugal, so graciously facilitated by the strong collaboration of the Portuguese diplomatic service abroad, and the civil service here in Lisbon.
I am told that some 40 thousand members of the Ismaili community have come here this week to share in our Jubilee celebrations. In the process, of course, they will also have the opportunity to discover Portugal, many of them for the first time. In doing so they are joining a great wave of foreign visitors who have made Portugal one of the fastest growing travel destinations in the world.
Of course, when we use the word “discover” in connection with Portugal, we are immediately reminded of the leading role that Portugal played in the great Age of Discovery - a half a millennium and more, ago. The spirit of discovery - of reaching out, of connecting and engaging, has long been a central part of Portuguese culture.
It was here, on the Iberian peninsula, between the 8th and the 16th centuries, that the History of Al-Andalus was written - when Muslim administrations worked constructively with people of the Christian and the Jewish faiths, viewing a diversity of talents and energies as a source of strength – rather than a cause for division.
This pluralistic outlook has been reflected at many points throughout Portuguese history – and it has been powerfully expressed in the recent re-emergence of this country as an influential leader on the global stage. I think of the strong roles played by Portuguese leaders at the United Nations, and UNESCO, at the European Commission, and - as of just last week - at the International Organization for Migration, to mention only a few examples.
As I have traveled throughout the world in recent years, one of the most hopeful developments I have identified is the emergence of countries with the potential to become “Countries of Opportunity.” And certainly Portugal has been earning a high place on that list.
To become a Country of Opportunity is not an easy matter, it is something that the people and the government of a nation must work at, creatively, patiently, and persistently.
A Country of Opportunity is one that builds on the strengths of its past, while also addressing its problems, embracing enduring values while respecting a variety of viewpoints. Countries of Opportunity value legal structures that create a climate of predictability and confidence, an enabling environment for creative change.
A Country of Opportunity is one that encourages cooperation among diverse interests, fostering partnerships between government and the private sector, for example, while also encouraging those private organisations that are designed to serve public goals, what we often call the institutions of civil society.
It is because of such factors that we can think today of Portugal as a Country of Opportunity, a Country that seeks to honour both its past achievements and its future opportunities, to embrace both the gift of social stability and the promise of social progress. And the Portuguese Parliament is to be commended for its role in that encouraging story.
My viewpoint on this matter is widely shared. One example, is the Global Peace Index for 2018, a report for the Institute for Economics and Peace. The Global Peace Index measures some 23 economic, social and political factors which contribute to peaceful societies in 162 countries. And it came as no surprise to see that, among all the nations in the world, Portugal is ranked in the top five.
It was with these values in mind that we signed an historic agreement in Lisbon in 2015 - an Agreement to establish here a new Seat of the Ismaili Imamat. This means that Lisbon, already a leading international crossroads city, will also now serve as a central connecting point for the global Ismaili community.
After that Agreement was signed three years ago, it was approved by the Portuguese Parliament, and I am pleased to thank the Parliament today, in person, for that welcoming endorsement.
Of course, we can trace the story of Ismaili engagement with Portugal back many years - even to the time when Ismailis settled in Portuguese Territories in India in the 17th Century, or when later Ismaili settlers came to Mozambique. Another milestone moment was the generous welcome that Portugal offered almost half a century ago to many Ismailis fleeing the Mozambiquan civil war.
Since that time, Ismaili ties to Portugal have multiplied. The Aga Khan Foundation in Portugal was established in the mid-1980's. In 1998 we created a new Ismaili Centre in Lisbon. Protocols of Cooperation between the Imamat and Portugal were signed in 2005, in 2008, in 2009, and in 2016, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Aga Khan University and the Catholic University of Portugal.
The word momentum comes to mind! What we celebrate today is an advancing sense of momentum - a spirit of progressive partnership between the Portuguese nation and the Ismaili Imamat.
Today, the Ismailis are a highly diversified community, living in more than 25 countries, mostly in the developing world, but with increasing numbers in Europe and North America.
The Ismaili Imamat itself, as you may know, is an international institution that goes back some 15 centuries, to the time of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him and his Family). This means that when I inherited my role just 61 years ago, I became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims.
Through the centuries, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat has been formally designated in one or more locations by the Imam-of-the-Time, depending on the requirements of the day. It has known many homes over the years - throughout the Arabian Peninsula, in the Middle East, in South Asia, and in North Africa. It moved to Cairo in the tenth century, when my ancestors founded that city.
The decision to establish a new Seat here in Portugal, at the gracious invitation of your Government, is one that has been taken after much reflection and consultation. It represents a true milestone moment in the long history of the Imamat.
The authority of the Ismaili Imam is spiritual rather than temporal in nature. At the same time, Islam believes fundamentally that the spiritual and material worlds are inextricably connected. This means that the Imam-of-the-Time also has a responsibility for improving the quality of life - the quality of worldly life - for his people, and for the people among whom the Ismailis live. It is to advance those responsibilities that so much of my attention over these sixty years has been committed not only to strengthening the Imamat’s capacities to fulfill its mandate, but also to the work of what we now call the AKDN - the Aga Khan Development Network.
The AKDN includes a variety of agencies working in the fields of economic development, education, health care, and cultural enrichment. Our fundamental objective is to do whatever we can to help to improve the quality of human life. And that is the spirit that will continue to inspire our partnership with the people and the Government of Portugal.
We know that the days ahead will be demanding ones, a time of profound global change. Economic developments are bringing new prospects for influence in the Global East, and a new sense of hope in the Global South. One new study suggests that two-thirds of the world’s growth in the next few years will be centered in the cities of the developing world.
At the same time, new technologies of communication and transportation are inter-connecting the world more closely than ever before.
What will these new realities mean for all of us? On the one hand, we must recognise, realistically, that our inter-connected world could bring about an increasing sense of suspicion, fear, and perhaps even vertigo as we look into the future. Diverse peoples, sadly, can sometimes interpret their differences as threats rather than as opportunities, defining their own identity by those they are against, rather than what they are for.
On the other hand, closer interactions in our world will also produce wonderful new opportunities for creative cooperation, for healthy inter-dependence, for new discovery and inspiring growth. When that happens, the opportunity to engage with people who are different from us need not be seen as a burden, but rather, as a blessing.
The welcoming attitude is often described as a pluralistic outlook. It was the animating concept behind one of our major AKDN projects, our establishment, together with the Government of Canada, of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. Since its founding 12 years ago, the Centre has worked to advance what we all refer to as a Cosmopolitan Ethic. Fostering strong Cosmopolitan Ethic in our world is surely a central challenge of our time.
As we face that challenge, Portugal is a most encouraging example. A Cosmopolitan Ethic has contributed abundantly to Portuguese culture in the past, and I know it will continue to animate this country’s future. It is a value that we will deeply enrich with our continuing partnership, as we establish here in Lisbon, a city with a true global vision, a new Seat of the Imamat, a committed global institution.
The Ismaili Imamat will now be proudly moving some of its activities into the magnificent, historic Palacete Mendonça. There we will establish our Department of Diplomatic Affairs and our Department of Jamati Institutions. We are already planning to host, here in Lisbon, next year’s meeting of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, as well as the inaugural Aga Khan Award for Music. And there will be much more to follow.
And so, our planning moves forward. We know that we face a demanding future. But as we engage with those demands, the Ismaili Imamat will draw strength from our continuing sense of partnership with the people and the Government of Portugal.
So let us, then, go forward together, bound by our shared past, committed to our shared values, and inspired by our shared hopes for a constructive, purposeful future.
|speech_202606||<p>"During this Jubilee year, I have visited Ismaili communities in many parts of the world. And now the anniversary events come to a happy culmination here in Portugal, so graciously facilitated by the strong collaboration of the Portuguese diplomatic service abroad, and the civil service here in Lisbon."</p>||English|
|Opening of the Aga Khan Centre, London||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/2018-06-uk-rm3a9628-33_r.jpg||London, UK||Tuesday, 26 June 2018||1530025200||Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the opening of the Aga Khan Centre, London||speech||United Kingdom||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/2018-06-uk-rm3a9628-33_r.jpg||Aga Khan University||Education||
Your Royal Highness,
What a pleasure it is to welcome you to this celebration!
We celebrate today a beautiful new architectural accomplishment. As we do so, we also honor those who have made this Centre possible - and the values that have inspired their work.
Two of those values which deserve special mention today - the value of education as a force for cooperation and healing in our world - and the value of architecture as a source of inspiration and illumination.
Both of these values - education and architecture - have been significant in the life and work of today’s guest of honor, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. As you know, Prince Charles’ commitment to creative education - through organisations such as the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts - has transformed the lives of countless young people from many backgrounds - over many years, and in many places.
Prince Charles has also consistently affirmed the transformative power of architecture - including the rich traditions of Islamic architecture. You may know, for example, about his development of an award-winning Islamic garden at his home in Highgrove.
The value of education, of course, is at the heart of this project. We are proud to open here a new home for two important educational institutions associated with the Aga Khan Development Network and the Ismaili Imamat. One is the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations of the Aga Khan University. The other is the Institute of Ismaili Studies. The UK offices of the Aga Khan Foundation will also be located here.
These institutions - through their teaching and research, their rich library and archival resources, as well as their tours and public programmes - will enrich the lives of people from the entire world.
For those of us who have seen these institutions grow from infancy, it will be a special joy to see them pursue their mission from this beautiful setting.
And what a mission it is!
One of the central challenges that faces our world today is the challenge of harmonising many highly diversified voices within an increasingly globalised world.
I use the word “harmonising” carefully - for our ideal here is not a chorus that sings in unison, but one that blends many distinctive voices into an intelligent, resonant whole. But to do that requires a deep understanding of what makes each voice distinctive. And that is the essential function of the educational endeavors that will make this place their home.
The challenge is particularly important in the area of religion – and it has been especially challenging for Islamic-Western relations. For centuries, the Muslim and Western cultures were largely separated geographically – although there have been memorable periods of integration as well - on the Iberian Peninsula and in South Asia - among other places. But those were hopeful exceptions to what some observers came, over time, to describe as an inevitable pattern of clashing civilisations.
When I came to my role as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community - just sixty years ago - I found it impossible to accept the notion of inevitably clashing civilisations. My own early life experiences were in both worlds – and so were those of millions of Muslim peoples. So rather than talk about clashing civilisations, I began to talk - again and again, as some of you may recall - about a clash of ignorances. And the assumption behind that phrase was that ignorance could yield to understanding through the power of education.
That continuing conviction is what brings me here today. I believe that is what brings all of us here.
My strong expectation is that, from this new home, our education-oriented institutions will contribute powerfully to building new bridges of understanding across the gulfs of ignorance.
As that happens, one important source of inspiration will be the place from which these institutions will be working - and that brings us to the second value I mentioned earlier - the inspiring power of architecture.
The places from which we look out at the world - and the places into which we welcome the world – can deeply influence how we understand ourselves - and our world.
And what place could be more ideal for both our educational hopes and our architectural enthusiasm than the place where we meet today - in the heart of London’s “Knowledge Quarter.” King’s Cross is one of the central connecting points for a city which itself has been one of the great connecting points for the entire world.
This place has been shaped by many diverse influences – and among them we now welcome the rich traditions of Islamic architecture.
One of those traditions - one that is appreciated by both the Islamic and the British cultures - is the special importance of the garden. We see the garden not merely as an adjunct to other constructions, but as a privileged space unto itself.
And that is why I have emphasised, since our role began here in 2010, my own hope that the value of garden spaces should be embraced here. As we perambulate together through these spaces today, I trust that you will share my delight in seeing how that hope has been fulfilled.
What we will see as we walk along are not only beautiful buildings - but also a unique series of gardens, courtyards and terraces - eight of them, in all, across our two buildings. Each one of them, moreover, has a distinctive identity: each one is inspired by a different region of the Islamic Ummah.
Taken together, this winding ribbon of special spaces is an eloquent tribute to the rich diversity of the Muslim world.
What they will make possible for those who walk these pathways, the people who will live and work here and public visitors as well, is a wonderful journey of refreshment and discovery.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, an extraordinary Islamic garden already exists in this part of the world, the one that Prince Charles created at his own home. But, since it is something of a journey to get out to Gloucestershire, we thought we might save people the trip by locating something here! For now they can actually see eight Islamic gardens right here in the heart of London!
As we open this remarkable site, it is a privilege to salute those who have brought us to this moment. I would recognise, in particular, our fine relationship with the government of this borough, this city, and this country, as well as our rewarding partnership with the people at Argent. We are grateful, as well, for the talents of Maki and Associates, Allies and Morrison, Madison Cox and Nelson Bird Woltz, as well as Rasheed Areen and the late Karl Schlamminger. I would also like to thank our splendid team of staff and volunteers, including my brother Prince Amyn, who have stewarded this project to completion.
And we especially salute the magnificent generosity of supportive donors from around the world.
Finally, as we open this building, I proudly welcome a guest whose commitment to the promise of inter-cultural education - and to the power of architecture - resonates ideally with the spirit of this place and this moment.
Ladies and gentlemen, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.
|Inauguration of the Sunder Nursery, New Delhi||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/india-sundernursery_sm03268_0.jpg||New Delhi, India||Wednesday, 21 February 2018||1519215300||Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the inauguration of the Sunder Nursery, New Delhi||speech||India||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2018/_sm03268.jpg||Aga Khan Trust for Culture||Historic Cities||
Honourable Vice President of India
I am deeply honoured - and so very happy - to share with you in today’s ceremony. I have followed the Sunder Nursery project with keen interest for many years – going back at least to the year 2000, when the Aga Khan Trust for Culture first undertook the restoration of the Gardens of Humayun’s Tomb, just next door.
I also remember the day ten years ago when we signed - with the Government of India and its agencies - the Public-Private Partnership which has so effectively advanced this great cultural complex. We signed that agreement in 2007, and our partnership over these past ten years has been remarkable.
Our deepest gratitude goes out today to all of our partners - including the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Central Public Works Department, and the Archaeological Survey of India, as well as to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy through the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. Likewise, the hundreds of craftsmen – stone carvers, plasterers, masons and gardeners - deserve our warmest appreciation and recognition.
And I would also salute the memory of the late Professor M. Shaheer - who sadly is no longer with us. Professor Shaheer worked with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for 18 years. He was the landscape architect for our project here at Humayun’s Tomb, as well as restorations in Kabul and in Hyderabad. His contribution to the Sunder Nursery project was immense -from the original master plan through to the detailed drawings. We think gratefully of him today as we see the results of his planning.
The ground on which we stand has been a centre of cultural history for a very long time. It was nearly seven centuries ago, for example, when the Sufi Saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, walked these paths and shared his teachings of universal love. That same message of tolerance and humanity would soon infuse the splendid Mughal empire – also centred here - with its Grand Trunk Road passing through this very terrain. From here, some one-quarter of the world’s population was once governed in a remarkably pluralistic, harmonious, spirit.
It is in that same spirit of universal harmony that we dedicate these Gardens today. For it is the Garden, down through history, that has often symbolised the harmonious interaction of Divine Blessing and Human Creativity.
This merging of Nature’s Gifts with Human Design is an ideal that is deeply embedded, of course, both in Indian culture and in Islamic traditions, with the flow of refreshing water reminding us of the abundance of Divine Blessing.
The Sunder Nursery expressed these same values when it was created here - almost one century ago, in 1924. The name, Sunder, itself, has its roots in ancient Sanskrit - often described as the world’s oldest language - where “Sunder” simply means “beautiful.”
The purpose of the Sunder Nursery a century ago was to gather the most beautiful plant species from every corner of the British Empire - and then to share them with the rapidly developing city of New Delhi.
But even as we reflect on these rich traditions, we also know that they have sometimes been neglected. Under pressure from exploding populations and shrinking budgets, too often crowded buildings have been squeezed into dense spaces – overlooking the importance of open greenery in healthy urban landscapes. Some have suggested that open spaces are unproductive - or even wasteful - ignoring their aesthetic, recreational and economic potentials - as catalysts for tourism, for education, for community development and for sport.
To restore, create and revitalise beautiful green spaces has been a prime goal of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in recent years - with ten notable successes in places ranging from Cairo to Zanzibar, from Toronto to Kabul, from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Bamako in Mali – and, of course, here in India.
All of these projects were designed to honour the past – while also serving the future. And it is with the future in mind that we now dedicate the Sunder Nursery as one of the world’s great public parks - open to all for recreation, for contemplation, for education, and for inspiration.
As we think about this lively future, we also know one more thing: our economic planning means that the Sunder Nursery will also be a self-sustaining entity.
It will truly be - a gift from the past that will keep on giving - long into the future.
|Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg||Ottawa, Canada||Wednesday, 15 November 2017||1510755300||Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inaugural Global Pluralism Award Ceremony||Pluralism||speech||Canada||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/mhi_speech_-_no_watermark.jpg||
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin
What a great pleasure it is to join all of you in this wonderful celebration.
The extraordinary people we honour this evening have all demonstrated the same inspiring quality - the ability to respond creatively to the challenges of diversity. At the same time, however, what is also most impressive tonight is the sheer diversity of their own particular stories. As you may have noted, the three Pluralism Awardees come from three continents, and our Honorary Awardees come from seven additional countries. But more than that, the nature of their work is itself truly multi-dimensional, as you will see as you learn about their accomplishments in more detail.
As you have heard, I am currently marking sixty years in the role I inherited in 1957. This role has taught me a great deal about the challenges of pluralism - about the way those challenges can be met, but also the way those challenges are growing. These are not new challenges, they are as old as the human race. They include the human temptation to define our personal identities by what we are against - rather than what we are for. They include the temptation to view difference, whenever it may appear, as something that might complicate one’s life, rather than as something that can enrich one’s life. And they include the sometimes instinctive reaction that difference is a threat to be avoided rather than an opportunity to be embraced.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities. That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world.
And as we walk together on that road, the example set by others can be a powerful source of inspiration—and that is why the Global Centre for Pluralism has established these awards. Their essential purpose is to share the power of inspiring examples with an ever-wider Community of Pluralism all across our world, a Community that will then create a growing momentum for inclusion - rather than exclusion – as a way to respond to the changes of our world.
In many ways, the establishment of this Award follows the pattern of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture which was established several decades ago. The final outcome of the Awards process is important, of course, but what is also important (both for Architecture - and now for Pluralism), is the far-reaching process that leads to the selection of our Awardees. It is a process that engages, over a two-year period, scores - indeed hundreds - of dedicated individuals. It includes those who search for qualified nominees, those who explore and investigate, and who then reflect on the difference that pluralistic commitments can make in specific contexts, at specific moments, in specific places.
It is one thing for us to talk about the general principles and theories of Pluralism. But it is even more exciting to see, close up, what Pluralism can mean in practice.
As I mention that process, I want to salute all who have participated in it -including the Selection Committee, and our Jury - led by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark and including His Worship Naheed Nenshi, Advocate Bience Gawanas, Dr. Dante Caputo and Madame Pascale Thumerelle.
I am also deeply pleased to be joined here tonight by the Right Honorable Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada. I well recall her groundbreaking 2015 Pluralism Lecture in Toronto, when she reminded us that living harmoniously amid diversity demands, and I quote her, “great generosity of spirit and openness of mind.”
Those very qualities certainly characterise the Chief Justice herself. Her leadership of the Supreme Court will be greatly missed when she retires at the end of this year.
It is my honour tonight to express to her our profound thanks for her powerful example, as I ask you to join me in welcoming her to this podium.
|speech_192546||<p>"Some people make the mistake of thinking that Pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasise their own distinctive identities. That's not true. What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world."</p>||English|
|United Nations Foundation Award||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg||New York, USA||Thursday, 19 October 2017||1508309100||Remarks by His Highness the Aga Khan at the United Nations Foundation Award event||Civil society,Pluralism||speech||United States of America||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-10-usa-speech-un-01.jpg||
President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák,
Thank you so much Kofi Annan for your generous words of introduction. There is no person alive today who has made a greater contribution to world peace than you, and thanks are due to you from all around the world.
It is a pleasure for me to share this beautiful evening with all of you, and what a special honor it is to be receiving from the United Nations Foundation its “Champion of Change Award.” I must also say that it is a very humbling experience - especially as I look around this room at so many people who have truly been outstanding “Champions of Change” in so many fields of endeavour - including the others being honored tonight. I am indeed humbled to be in their presence.
I have come to know about the United Nations Foundation through our admired friend, Kofi Annan, who has been one of our “educators-in-chief” in spreading the good word about the UN Foundation - of which he is an extremely devoted and effective board member.
I am also an enthusiastic supporter of the UN Foundation for another reason. What has caught my attention for many years is how closely its philosophy about global development actually parallels our own. The words that leap out of its mission statements include terms like “linking” and “connecting…” not only with the United Nations itself, but with a host of other organisations. Some of these are private, some are governmental, and some are private but not-for-profit. I refer to this third category of institutions as “Civil Society” - by which I mean essentially private organizations that are fundamentally devoted to public purposes.
For a long time, political debate all around the world focused on the competing merits of government action versus private enterprise. My conviction, which has deepened through the years, is that these are false alternatives - and that is the central message I would emphasize in these brief remarks tonight. The question is not which sector can be most effective in the march towards progress - the central question is how these sectors can best become effective partners in this quest.
The concept of public-private partnerships has been one of the keys to the best work of our agencies, in many fields and many countries around the world in the last sixty years since I became the Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community. The public-private partnership formula alone, however, is incomplete - unless we also insert the words “Civil Society.” The partnerships that will most dramatically change the world are those in which all three components - private, public and civil society institutions can connect - one with the other - in all-embracing common effort.
When that happens, other concepts emphasised by the UN Foundation also come alive. I have been impressed, for example, by the innovative terminology the Foundation uses in expressing its goals: like these three dynamic words: “Catalyzing” – “multiplier” – and “effects.” Think about it.
The notion of “catalyzing multiplier effects” reflects a similar dynamic to what I refer to as “trampoline” projects for development. These projects are best-practice examples of balanced partnerships between governments, private entities and civil society, threaded together by innovative thinking, intelligent structures, and clear lines of communication. Well-defined goals and responsibilities are essential, as is the buy-in of the target constituency.
Such projects offer the potential for long-range impacts, which go well beyond immediate, short-term results.
This goal is - to be candid - sometimes easier to talk about than to accomplish. But one of the great global models of how best to pursue this aim has been the United Nations Foundation.
Another central part of our Aga Khan Development Network’s approach is one that we also share with the United Nations Foundation: an emphasis on what we call “countries of opportunity”. The issue is to do what we must to set them alive by creating and sustaining an enabling environment.
And fundamental to all of this, of course, is a basic philosophical commitment which is expressed by another important word and that word is “pluralism”. This is a frame of mind which regards diversity, multiplicity, and indeed difference itself - not as a burden nor a threat but as a gift - a Gift of the divine - an opportunity to learn rather than a danger to be avoided.
So - it is with all of these thoughts in mind that I say again how proud I am to be here to accept your award - recognising how it reinforces not only the important “words” but also the useful concepts, and indeed the central “values”- that we - all of us - hold in common.
Thank you very much.
|Honorary Doctorate from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/cropped_dsc0001.jpg||Lisbon, Portugal||Thursday, 20 July 2017||1500565500||Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan upon receiving a doctorate honoris causa from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa||Education and knowledge society||speech||Portugal||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/cropped_dsc0001.jpg||Aga Khan University,University of Central Asia||Civil society,Education||
Your Excellency President Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
I am deeply honoured by this recognition from Universidade NOVA, and by the presence of so many of this country’s distinguished leaders, including the President of the Portuguese Republic. I am grateful to Mr. Francisco Pinto Balsemão, as the Patron of the Doctorate, for his warm gesture and long friendship.
The University may be young compared against the more than 700-year history of higher education in Portugal, but it has quickly developed a truly outstanding reputation for the quality of its teaching and scholarship, and for its pluralistic, global outlook – foundations that will last for centuries.
I have always felt at home in Portugal, and now ever more so since the signing in 2015 of an historic Agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in this country – an important milestone in the 1,400-year history of the Ismaili Imamat. It marks the culmination of our long and deep relationship here and one that will now deepen further. While we work in 30 countries, we hold an enduring affinity for Portugal and its institutions, its history and its people. And the historic Palacete Henrique Mendonca will become the most fitting host for the Seat.
Underpinning this partnership with Portugal is our admiration for the country’s pluralism and bridge-building initiatives with people from disparate cultures and faiths.
In addition to Universidade NOVA’s significant and international partnerships, your student body now includes people from an impressive 103 countries! Your principles are embodied within your motto, and I quote, “every city divided against itself shall not stand”. The world would do well to adopt it.
The University promotes sustainable development across a range of human activity, all working together to raise the quality of human life. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) also emphasises integrated approaches. In Portugal, our urban community and early childhood programmes are particularly important in driving holistic results that transform lives, across a diversity of individuals and communities.
You are purposeful about building partnerships; a true hallmark of an exceptional institution. Some of your partners are also ours, for example Catholica University and Gulbenkian Foundation. Another example is an innovative partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic, supporting research here and in Africa. And I would also mention our work with the Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza in Mozambique to strengthen agriculture, which now seeks partnerships in Portugal. It is clear that the production of food is a critical issue for the destiny of all African countries.
Universities are important civil society institutions, and it is essential to focus on their role in the years ahead. The AKDN has two universities that, like yours, are relatively new. The Aga Khan University, started in 1983, promotes standards for healthcare and education in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.K. and across East Africa. More recently we started an institution in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. In naming it, we sought to signal local roots and the word “new” or “NOVA” Aga Khan University did not sound quite right! We called it University of Central Asia. Indeed, Portugal’s emphasis on learning and knowledge aligns with Islam’s emphasis on these areas.
I reiterate in closing my profound appreciation for our partnership, and for honouring me and by extension the Ismaili Imamat and the AKDN, especially as this honour comes during my Diamond Jubilee year, marking 60 years as the 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims worldwide.
Our commitment to Portugal reflects our deep respect for this country and our deep affection for its people.
|Opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg||Mombasa, Kenya||Tuesday, 13 June 2017||1497024900||Speech by H.E. Margaret Kenyatta at the opening of the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory at the Aga Khan Hospital||speech||Kenya||2010s||179271||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-06-kenya08-aai_1688.jpg||Aga Khan Health Services||
Princess Zahra Aga Khan
It is such a pleasure to be here this morning to join you in launching an initiative that will save thousands of Kenyan lives.
I am happy to be reacquainted with so many of you dear friends, and the Aga Khan family who together over the past four years have partnered with me to improve the lives of mothers and children of Kenya.
Today we have gathered to witness the launch of a historical and innovative investment of state of the art cardiac Catheterization laboratory, the latest in Kenya and the first of its kind outside Nairobi.
For this, I extend my deepest gratitude to Princes Zahra, the Aga Khan Development Network and the partners involved in this important initiative that will expand access to quality diagnostic, timely and accurate treatment not only to the Coastal communities, but the entire country.
I applaud the Aga Khan Development Network for its strategic investment of US$ 1million to not only deliver health services access closer to the communities through the establishment of more health facilities. This new facility offload the existing pressure on Referral Hospitals and medical specialists.
We have heard that coronary artery disease has been projected to take over as the leading cause of mortality in Sub Sahara Africa, and sadly, the vulnerable communities continue to bear the brunt of this disease. In Kenya, more than 3,000 avoidable deaths occur annually mostly affecting the younger generation, who are the productive segment of our country.
Dealing with this new phenomenon requires an aligned vision, cultivation of reliable and strong partnerships between the public sector, professionals, development partners and the private sector. Kenya has spent the last decade addressing the issue of quality healthcare access. The progress in this effort is laudable and will continue to be the focus over the next decade.
In my journey with the Beyond Zero initiative, travelling across all 47 counties, I agonized over the despair and cost that families face due to limited access, financial barriers and limited information on preventative care. But I have also witnessed the invaluable pivotal role that partnerships play in positively impacting communities and complimenting the Governments effort to expand access to quality, timely and affordable healthcare. Which is why I am so thrilled to be part of this partnership today that will have a direct bearing on targeting poor households and vulnerable citizens.
This visionary hospital project that will be rolled out in the next two years promises to offer many Kenyans readily available and improved diagnostic treatment, as well as offer training for medical professionals and research. And I am confident that together we will find the right approach to increase public awareness and develop practical and sustainable solutions to treatment for cardiovascular diseases.
With those few remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare the Cardiac Catheterisation Lab at the Cardiology Centre officially launched.
|Foreign Policy Association Medal to His Highness the Aga Khan||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-05-usa-mcnee-dsc_3084.jpg||New York||Monday, 29 May 2017||1493796600||Speech by Mr. McNee, on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan, on receipt of the Foreign Policy Assoication Medal||Pluralism||speech||United States of America||2010s||186381||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/2017-05-usa-mcneedsc_3079_r.jpg||
It is wonderful for Sue and me to be back in New York and among so many friends.
It is a great honour to receive this prestigious Medal on behalf of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Global Centre for Pluralism. His Highness asked me to convey his deep appreciation to the Board of the Foreign Policy Association and to Noel Lateef, its President. He has been a real admirer of the FPA since he was an undergraduate at Harvard.
Many of you may not know much about the Aga Khan. He is both a faith leader—he is the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims—and a major global philanthropist who has devoted his life to making the world a better place for all, regardless of faith or ethnicity. In the last decade, he has founded two major new institutions in Canada—the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, a spectacular new museum that showcases his family’s collection of Islamic art.
I am delighted that leaders of the Ismaili community in the US are here at this wonderful dinner.
I am honoured to be here tonight with Dr David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He has achieved great things as president of Cornell and now at the Smithsonian. It is very flattering and fitting that the Global Centre for Pluralism should be recognised alongside the Smithsonian. Our mandates intersect: the Smithsonian is all about explaining and communicating the rich strands of American history and culture. The Global Centre for Pluralism is about respecting and, indeed, celebrating diversity, in the United States, in Canada and globally.
As His Highness has said:
Now, behavioural science has long taught that the best solutions emerge when people of different experiences and perspectives are brought together to solve a problem. It is the same in societies. As Tom Friedman has persuasively argued in his latest book, Thank You For Being Late, in the 21st century the countries that will be most successful will be those which value their diversity.
Our thesis is that every society in the contemporary world is diverse in some way, whether social, linguistic, ethnic, tribal or religious diversity. This is true for all continents --for Africa and Asia, North and South America and Europe – and for developing countries, the emerging powers and industrialized countries alike.
If that diversity is accommodated and valued, it will lead to greater prosperity and peace. But, the opposite holds true, too: if diversity is seen as an element of weakness or division, it leads to discord and negative social outcomes—less peace, less development, less prosperity. At worst, civil strife or even genocide.
Well, what do I mean by “pluralism”?
Diversity in society is a fact, but pluralism is a deliberate choice - by governments, by civil society organisations like the Foreign Policy Association, by communities and by individuals, to accommodate and value diversity in society.
Now, the members of the FPA are a very sophisticated group. If I were to ask you to name the common global challenges of the 21st century, your list would probably include climate change, nuclear proliferation, alleviation of poverty, human rights and democracy and a sound global financial system. To these, His Highness would add the challenge of living together productively with difference.
Why is pluralism so urgently needed in today’s world? To be blunt, the trends are very troubling. Stephen Toope, the incoming President of my alma mater, Cambridge University, argues that we are entering a new “age of anxiety”. A tide of nationalist populism, nativism, intolerance and xenophobia is sweeping across Europe. It may yet upend European politics. A close analysis of the Brexit vote by The Economist shows that fear of immigrants and refugees, not economic dislocation, was the crucial factor. The United States, the great beacon of hope and opportunity for the whole world, is not immune, and nor is my country, Canada. Fear of the accelerated pace of change, fear of those who are different, fear of the future propel this wave.
As these developments roil Western societies, in the developing world the challenges of living together with diversity are endemic and often cause violent conflict—over access to land and water, or to economic opportunity, or to sharing political power, or the right to practice one’s faith, or to maintain one’s language and culture.
This is true in Africa and Asia as well as in the Americas. Think only of Iraq and Syria, where sectarian and ethnic differences have, in part, been the cause of tragedy. Think back to the former Yugoslavia, to Sri Lanka, to Rwanda to consider the terrible depths to which ethnic conflict can descend.
Now, to go back to Canada. Canada is not perfect. But the Aga Khan would argue that it is the most successful country in respecting its wide ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity and in harvesting the benefits of that diversity.
The Global Centre for Pluralism is a unique private - public partnership between a global philanthropist, His Highness the Aga Khan, and the Canadian government.
Its mission, as an applied knowledge organisation, is to promote understanding of the principles and practices of pluralism around the world, and to share that knowledge and those experiences with others through research, education and dialogue.
To cite just one of the Centre’s exciting new initiatives, in November we will confer the first Global Pluralism Awards that will celebrate “pluralism in action” around the world.
On May 16th, His Highness and the Governor General of Canada will officially open our Global Headquarters, a major heritage building in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
I invite you all to come and see us and also to engage through our website.
Ladies and gentleman, to conclude, pluralism needs champions and supporters, it is under assault. By conferring this prestigious Medal on His Highness, the FPA is giving important recognition and profile to the cause. We are very sincerely grateful.
To paraphrase that wonderful old line from Casablanca, I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
Thank you very much.
|Opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/_mv15893.jpg||Ottawa, Canada||Tuesday, 16 May 2017||1494938700||Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the opening ceremony of the new headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism||Pluralism||speech||Canada||2010s||6926||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/_mv15893.jpg||Civil society||
Your Excellency the Governor General
What a great day this is for all of us. And what a special ceremony, as we honour a beautiful symbol of Canada’s rich past, and rededicate it to the great cause of a pluralistic Global future.
As you know, the War Museum Building was designed well over a century ago by the great Canadian Architect, David Ewart. For its first half century, it was the home of the Dominion Archives, and then, for another half century, we knew it as the War Museum. For over one hundred years, all told, it was a place where the record of Canada’s proud and confident past was preserved and honoured.
I think you will agree with me that the past still speaks to us in this place. The architects, designers, engineers and so many others who have rehabilitated this wonderful Tudor Gothic building have taken enormous care to respect its distinctive historic character. We all join today in saluting the design and engineering team led by KPMB, the construction team, led by MP Lundy Construction, and so many other dedicated staff and volunteers who have contributed to this project.
J'aimerais partager une autre pensée alors que nous tournons nos regards vers ce passé si digne de respect. Je trouve en effet très approprié que cette cérémonie ait lieu cette année, l'année du 150ème anniversaire de la Confédération canadienne.
Je suis heureux de pouvoir me compter au nombre de ceux qui, cette année, évoquent avec une fierté particulière "notre" histoire canadienne. La raison en est bien sûr la générosité dont ce pays a fait preuve à mon égard, il y a plusieurs années, en m'octroyant le titre de citoyen honoraire du Canada.
But even as we celebrate the past today, we are also looking ahead, with joy and confidence, to a particularly exciting future.
That future has also been symbolized by those who have renewed this building, in two compelling ways.
First, they created a new garden in the forecourt, a tranquil space for contemplating the past and thinking about the future. And then, secondly, they made a dramatic new gesture for the future by opening this building to the river.
When I first visited this site, I went across the Ottawa River, to see things from the opposite side. From that perspective, I noticed that many buildings on the Ontario side had, over the years, turned their backs to the river. But as we began to plan, another possibility became evident. It seemed increasingly significant to open the site to the water.
Water, after all, has been seen, down through the ages, as the great source of life. When scientists search the universe for signs of life, they begin by looking for water. Water restores and renews and refreshes. And opening ourselves and our lives to the water is to open ourselves and our lives to the future.
In addition, the Ottawa River represents a powerful connection to other places, nearby and far away. It is not only a refreshing symbol, it is also a connecting symbol, connecting this site to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world.
Throughout the history of Canada, the Ottawa River has been a meeting place for diverse peoples, originally the First Nations, and then the British and the French, and more recently Canadians from many different backgrounds. It symbolizes the spirit of connection. And the spirit of connection, of course, is at the very heart of the Global Centre for Pluralism.
The new forecourt garden suggests that the Centre will be a place for contemplation and reflection. And the opening to the River suggests that it will also be a place for connection and engagement.
What happens at 330 Sussex Drive in the years ahead will radiate out well beyond its walls, to the entire world.
Let me emphasize a point about the concept of pluralism that is sometimes misunderstood. Connection does not necessarily mean agreement. It does not mean that we want to eliminate our differences or erase our distinctions. Far from it. What it does mean is that we connect with one another in order to learn from one another, and to build our future together.
Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference. Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society, it strengthens it. In an ever-shrinking, ever more diverse world, a genuine sense of pluralism is the indispensable foundation for human peace and progress.
From the start, this has been a vision that the Ismaili Imamat and the Government of Canada have deeply shared.
My own close association with Canada began more than five decades ago, with the coming to Canada of many thousands of Asian Ismailis, essentially as the result of Idi Amin’s anti-Asian policies in Uganda. That relationship has been re-enforced through the years as we have shared with our Canadian friends in so many great adventures, here in Canada and in other lands, including the Global Centre for Pluralism.
The Centre has been, from the start, a true partnership - a breakthrough partnership - a genuine public-private partnership. And one of my central messages today is how deeply grateful we are to all of those who have made this partnership so effective.
It was with Prime Minister Jean Chretien, that we first discussed the idea of founding a new pluralism centre, and it was Prime Minister Paul Martin who helped develop the plan. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government sealed the partnership and Minister Bev Oda then signed with me the establishing Agreement. Minister Mélanie Joly has also given strong support to the GCP. And Prime Minister Trudeau has articulated, with conviction and with passion, the need for pluralism in our world.
I think, too, today of so many other public servants who have helped guide this effort, including Universities Canada, the IDRC and other past and present members of the Corporation of the GCP. And I also thank the fine cooperation we have received from the Canadian Mint, who will share with us in occupying one wing of this building.
As we celebrate the progress we have made today, we also recognize the growing challenges to our mission, as nativist and nationalist threats to pluralism rise up in so many corners of the world. In responding to these challenges, the Global Centre for Pluralism has planned a variety of new initiatives. Among them are the new Global Pluralism Awards which will recognise pluralism in action around the world, as well as a distinguished series of new publications.
As we look today both to the past and to the future, we do so with gratitude to all those who have shared in this journey, and who now share in our pursuit of new dreams. Among them is someone whom we welcome today not only as a distinguished Statesman, but also as one whose personal support has inspired us all.
It is a pleasure and an honour to present to you His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada.
|speech_186221||<p>"Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference. Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society - it strengthens it."</p>||English|
|Bamyan hospital opening, Afghanistan||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/3_-_pz_speech.jpg||Bamyan, Afghanistan||Monday, 24 April 2017||1493021700||Remarks by Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the opening of the Bamyan hospital, Afghanistan||Health||speech||Afghanistan||2010s||8996||1||1||http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/events/2017/3_-_pz_speech.jpg||Aga Khan Health Services||
Your Excellency Second Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Sarwar Danesh,
Thank you, governor Zohair for your very warm welcome to Bamyan. Today is a momentous day as we open the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital. The Aga Khan Development Network started work in the Bamyan Province in 2003. At that time health service delivery at Bamyan Hospital was provided from a 35 bed facility with 72 staff working mainly out of tents. There was no Essential Package of Hospital Services, nor a Masterplan for the Hospital to guide its development, very limited equipment, medicines and consumables, and there was a great shortage of qualified health staff.
Major changes have occurred since then; at the old premises the hospital was upgraded and expanded, more and better qualified staff were brought in, training programmes commenced, new equipment was installed and the hospital became well-stocked with medicines and consumables.
The investments have had an impact: the volumes at the hospital increased and performance improved. The number of admissions went up from 1,900 in 2004 to more than11,000 in 2016, the outpatient attendances from 43,000 to 175,000, deliveries from 100 to more than 3,000, and major operations from 150 to 600.
Similarly, the hospital has seen a good reduction in waiting time for the patient to see a doctor, and in quality indicators such as the number of inpatient falls, infections acquired in the hospital during admission, medical errors and needle stick injuries and a steadily-declining average length of stay – these are all signs of improving clinical quality. In 2012 the Bamyan Provincial Hospital received ISO-9001:2008 certification, the first and with Faizabad Hospital in Badakhshan the only Provincial Hospitals in Afghanistan with this ‘quality’ accreditation.
Next to investing in infrastructure and equipment, Bamyan hospital management, supported by the community hospital board, has been able and continues to invest in training and capacity building of the now more than 200 staff, and the Aga Khan Health Services, Afghanistan with its partners pays much attention to the importance of continuing education for medical, nursing and allied health staff, as well as management and support staff.
The telemedicine or e-health link, established in 2009, also plays an important role. It creates the opportunity for the staff at Bamyan hospital to connect to the FMIC in Kabul and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi; these extend support and advice, build capacity and enable an exchange of medical data and information for analysis. Enabling this technology to come to Bamyan has made and continues to make a significant impact to the quality improvements in health service delivery at the hospital. To date in Bamyan, more than 9,000 patients have benefitted from telemedicine and more than 4,000 Afghan medical personnel have participated in diagnostic and training opportunities facilitated by this link.
However, Bamyan Provincial Hospital became in a way victim of its own success: the old premises became too small to cope with the increasing number of patients and there was no possibility to expand further. We are grateful to be able today to officially open this well-designed and constructed141 bed hospital on this site gifted by the Bamyan municipality.
The new hospital is state of the art when it comes to functionality, but it is also designed to be highly energy efficient and structurally safe and seismically resilient. The building also has some unique architectural features – the external finishing using traditional mud construction that makes the hospital blend in so well with the natural environment by applying new innovative ‘rammed earth’ technologies to make it durable; the central Charbagh, the views of the external spaces with the wonderful views of the mountains from all corners of the building and creating a sense of being connected to nature while being inside; the art work that you see on the walls using local historical motives and the 400 KW solar plant that provides for the majority of the electrical supply of the hospital.
I want to thank all who created this beautiful facility on time and within budget; hospital planners CPG, architects ARCOP, contractors Raqim, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat construction management team, and the steering committee that judiciously oversaw the project.
I must make special mention of the important Canadian support, through Global Affairs Canada, that allowed us to build this hospital. Global Affairs Canada has been one of the AKDN's long-standing partners, supporting the establishment of the Aga Khan University School of Nursing in Pakistan some three decades ago, and now supporting so much of our work in maternal, newborn, and child health as well as health systems strengthening here in Afghanistan, and in other parts of Central and South Asia.
Phase 2 of the hospital construction, including the installation of the solar plant, was made possible through the Health Action Plan for Afghanistan or HAPA programme, that brought another longstanding collaborator of AKDN; France, through the Agence Française de Développement. Thank you, AFD.
I would also like to acknowledge the thousands of Canadians who contributed to Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s fundraising efforts for the construction of the hospital.
The way you have taken on the responsibility of the stewardship role and guided us in the implementation of the Essential Hospital Services Package for Bamyan Hospital, the Basic Package of Health services in remote areas of Afghanistan, and the Community Midwifery and Nursing Education Programmes in three provinces has truly been exemplary.
The Aga Khan Development Network itself remains dedicated to working with the Government of Afghanistan and through it, to building the quality of life of its great people. Through investments in the private sector – telecommunications, hospitality, tourism and microfinance – as well as concurrent investments in the social and cultural sectors – health systems strengthening; health professionals training including post-graduate medical education and diploma level nursing through the Aga Khan University; primary, secondary education and adult literacy programmes; facilitating village community organisations; the restoration of the Bagh-e-Babur gardens and the urban area around it. Through these multiple interventions, the Network seeks to harness and influence the various dimensions of human life such that together, they chart a course for growth while building social protection.
|speech_182746||<p>"Today is a momentous day as we open the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital. The Aga Khan Development Network started work in Bamyan Province in 2003. At that time health service delivery at Bamyan Hospital was provided from a 35 bed facility with 72 staff working mainly out of tents. There was no Essential Package of Hospital Services, nor a Masterplan for the Hospital to guide its development, very limited equipment, medicines and consumables, and there was a great shortage of qualified health care staff."</p>||English|