The AKDN takes a broad, long-range approach to health that addresses some of the chronic health issues in poor communities. It delivers services directly by operating one of the largest non-profit, private healthcare systems in the developing world – and has done so for over 60 years. It works to transform healthcare systems by training thousands of nurses, midwives and doctors. It operates community health projects, often in conjunction with rural development programmes, in some of the poorest and remote areas of the planet.
The AKDN works to improve a community’s health by integrating behavioural change in its related programmes − for example, by teaching children in its early childhood development programmes the importance of hand washing. As its universities and teaching hospitals are located in the developing world, it conducts world-class research on the endemic and emerging health issues of these areas. Its ultimate aim is to create efficient and appropriate health systems that raise the quality of life of populations in the developing world.Research
The culture of research is lacking in most of the developing world. For this reason the AKDN undertakes research focused on endemic problems and which aids decision-making that is appropriate for the places in which it works. It also works with research institutions in the developed world on particular studies of interest. The Network’s healthcare institutions have published in many of the most august journals in medicine on topics ranging from malaria to heart disease.
The challenges of health care in East Africa are well known: low access, poor service, insufficient research. For every 10,000 inhabitants there is 1 doctor, 6 nurses and 10 hospital beds. To address these challenges, the AKDN health system has been expanding its operations in South Asia and East Africa, where it has been operating for over 60 years. Primary healthcare facilities are linked to major teaching hospitals, such as the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, established in 1958, which is considered one of the best hospitals on the continent. These facilities serve as “hubs” for the AKDN’s expanding East Africa Integrated Health System in the region, which is dedicated to providing high-quality health coverage at affordable prices to an economically diverse population.
Central and South Asia
The AKDN’s work in Central and South Asia is marked by widely different experience: decades of conflict in Afghanistan, the demise of Soviet health care in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, and the polarisation of access to health care in Pakistan and India. To optimise resources and to ensure access to high-quality care even for those populations living in hard-to-reach places, the AKDN employs a “hubs and spokes” system of healthcare services whose reach transcends national borders. A high-level medical facility often staffed with teaching and research faculty, a hub supports an array of health centres in rural and/or urban areas. For example, through eHealth, the medical staff at the remote Khorog Diagnostic Unit in Tajikistan consults its peers in major AKDN university hospitals in Kabul and Karachi, to ensure more timely and effective diagnosis and treatment. Over the next 25 years, this hubs and spokes system will expand to improve the quality and reach of AKDN and government facilities in the region.