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  • The AKU Advanced Nursing Studies programme offers continuing and higher education up to BScN level to working nurses, allowing them to remain at their workplaces while pursuing professional development.
    Zul Mukhida
Aga Khan University helps tackle health sector reform in East Africa

Kampala, Uganda, 16 February 2002 — “The future of the health sector in this country and the region as a whole is being underwritten by this type of vital investment in human resource capacity building.”

Welcoming the commissioning of the first international campus of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in customised premises in Kampala, Hon. Abel Rwendeire, Minister of Trade and Industry, noted that “the philosophy of AKU is to offer “excellence– the establishment should be a yardstick for our standards” and remarked that “the physical facilities being offered by AKU are of world class”.

Hon. Rwendeire, formerly the Minister of State for Higher Education and a long-time campaigner for continuing and higher education for nurses and other health professionals, recalled visiting the University in Pakistan in 1999. He remembered examining the curriculum and being struck by the fact that it offered nurses opportunities to continue their education once they had qualified.

The Advanced Nursing Studies Programme of Aga Khan University (East Africa) developed in response to requests from governments and nursing leaders of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda is fully accredited in Uganda and underway in a newly equipped campus in Kampala. Preparations for implementation of the programmes in Kenya and Tanzania are well advanced. In Uganda, the first students in an 18-month Enrolled Nurse-to-Registered Nurse conversion course will complete their studies in July this year, whilst those on a 30-month post-Registered Nurse, Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programme are expected to graduate in 2003. Recognising the value of work experience, the Advanced Nursing Studies Programme offers a flexible module approach and the community-based curriculum will enable the nurses to function effectively both in the hospital and in the community.

Hon. Rwendeire described the major regional educational initiative as “an example of long-term investment that will address a critical need in health sector reform in East Africa. It is further evidence of the Aga Khan Development Network’s commitment to social development in Uganda.” “This institution,” he continued, “is remarkable for a number of reasons. It brings professional nursing training and tertiary education of the highest international standards here in Uganda with a focus on our own specific needs. The Programme enables working nurses to continue to earn while they learn. Most importantly, however, it permits the knowledge gained to be readily applied. It also allows both public and private participating health care institutions to benefit from better qualified personnel, eventually enriching the country’s professional resource base in one of its neediest sectors.”

Conducting the Ministers and a small group of senior government officials on an informal tour of the premises during operating hours, Imelda Bagambaki, the Programme Academic Head, pointed out that the facility will include a state-of-the-art skills laboratory, a library, lecture space, and classrooms, as well as a computer laboratory.

Nurses constitute the largest percentage of healthcare providers in East Africa and are active at all levels of the healthcare system, from remote rural centres to sophisticated tertiary care hospitals in urban areas. Recognising that effective reform requires a significant investment in personnel who manage services and provide care, governments are developing plans to improve the competence and confidence of health professionals, especially nurses.

Conceptualised by the School of Nursing at the AKU (Pakistan), one of South Asia’s leading academic and research institutions in the Health Sciences, the Advanced Nursing Studies Programme will go on to incorporate additional courses that will cater to specifically identified needs such as Education, Management, Accident/Emergency and Disaster Nursing.

Since entering into an Accord of Cooperation for Development with the Government of Uganda, in 1992 the Aga Khan Development Network has successfully completed a number of endeavours to rehabilitate social development projects, particularly in the area of education. Notable amongst these are the pre-primary, primary and secondary schools and the Enhanced Universal Primary Education in Kampala (EUPEK) Resource Centre at the Makerere Road complex. AKU’s Uganda Campus now brings to this same complex, an important higher education component.


The Advanced Nursing Studies Programme was premised on recent research findings, which concluded that the health status of communities in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) is amongst the poorest in the world. Infant mortality in all three countries averages 90 deaths per 1000 live births, higher than the average for all low-income countries. Perinatal, infectious and parasitic illnesses are responsible for 75 percent of infant deaths; infectious and parasitic afflictions cause 71 percent of the deaths of children aged one to four and 62 percent of the deaths of children aged five to fourteen. Twice as many women in Kenya and Tanzania die in childbirth as the average for low-income countries, and more than four times the average die in Uganda. In addition to facing the traditional causes of high rates of morbidity and mortality, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania bear the heavy and tragic burden of HIV and AIDS.

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 Education Services, which manage some 280 educational institutions, the Aga Khan Health Services, which operate more than 170 health facilities and five tertiary care hospitals; and 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.

The Aga Khan University, which plays a pivotal role in the Network, is an autonomous self-governing institution that was the first private university in Pakistan. Chartered as an international university with the authority to operate programmes, branches, and campuses anywhere in the world, AKU has collaborated with a number of leading academic institutions. Its Faculty of Health Sciences was planned with the support of Harvard University, McGill University, Sheffield University (UK) and McMaster University. AKU’s Institute for Educational Development was established with the support of the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto.

For further information, please contact:

Ms Imelda Bagambaki – Programme Academic Head
Mrs. Farida Hashim Shamsy – Assistant Professor
The Aga Khan University
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: (041) 347245/342925 Ext 35
Fax: (041) 340 126

Dr. Grace Miller
The Aga Khan University
Regional Office
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (02) 747483/745808
Fax: (02) 747004
Websites:  and

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