Heart disease and cancer, the leading causes of death in developed countries, are also emerging as growing problems in the developing world as a result of lifestyle changes. These include higher-fat diets, lower physical activity and increased consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. According to the World Health Organisation, 70 percent of new cancers in the next 15 years will occur in developing countries. In these countries, the conditions are affecting younger, workingage populations. Developing countries therefore face the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease alongside the existing burdens from infectious diseases.
In its efforts to play a fundamental role in Kenya’s response to these new challenges while bringing international standards of health care to East Africa, the Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi (AKUH, N) – in partnership with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – has established a world-class Heart and Cancer Centre. At a cost of over US$ 50 million, the Centre will provide care and treatment comparable to the best centres in the West while developing much needed human resources in the region. It is part of the University’s programme for the Faculty of Health Sciences, which includes the expansion of the university hospital to a 600-bed tertiary care facility and the establishment of an Undergraduate Medical Education Programme, an Undergraduate Nursing Programme and a school of Allied Health Professionals. The new facility will form
the hub of an integrated Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) health system in East Africa which, when fully realised, will provide a continuum of care – from community and primary care to tertiary care – underpinned by teaching and research.