In 2001, upon receiving the prestigious Archon Award from the international nursing honour society, Sigma Theta Tau International, His Highness said in a speech that “I have 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. The way forward was to professionalise, to institutionalise, and to dignify this great profession.” The Archon Awards 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.
In that same year, His Highness the Aga Khan began opening nursing schools under the Aga Khan University (AKU) banner in East Africa. Designed to “professionalise, to institutionalise, and to dignify this great profession”, they would eventually create the critical nurses and midwives needed in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Founded in 1983 in Pakistan by His Highness the Aga Khan, AKU now has campuses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and has awarded more than 3,000 diplomas and degrees across the region. The University provides scholarships to nine out of 10 of its students in East Africa. Its academic units in East Africa include the Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Graduate School of Media and Communications, East Africa Institute and Institute for Human Development. The 300-bed Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi is East Africa’s leading private teaching hospital.