March 19, 1989


Addressing the convocation Grand Seminar at the Aga Khan University in Karachi on 19th March 1989, Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto exhorted the non-government organisation (NGOs) to join hands with the Government in attaining the national health goals.

The Seminar, attended by Mowlana Hazar Imam, Dr. Halfdan Mahler Emeritus Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Nath Bhamaraparavati, Rector Mahdol University, Bangkok and leading academicians and health specialists from throughout the world, was organized by the Aga Khan University. Its theme was "The Role of an academic Science Centre in a developing country".

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto paid glowing tribute to Mowlana Hazar Imam. "His Highness," she said "has earned the gratitude of millions of people throughout the world including Pakistan for his philanthropic activities in the fields of health, education and rural development. Through the work of innumerable charitable organizations set up by the Aga Khan Foundation, His Highness has earned the prayers of people irrespective of their caste, creed, colour and nationality, this indeed is a great achievement and is itself a worthy reward for a cause which His Highness richly deserves".

The Prime Minister emphasized that Pakistan needs the greatest attention to its health sector, seen from any stand-point of health indices whether availability of basic health facilities, trained paramedics or medical research relevant to its needs. "Pakistan has a long way to go. We are desperately short of trained personnel including nurses and para-medical staff. The available health facilities are not only inadequate but also unfairly distributed and are outside the reach of the common man" she said.

The theme of the seminar is a central one for the Aga Khan University which is in the process of evolving its education and training programme for medical, nursing and postgraduate students. The aim is to maximise the usefulness of its clinical and community health activities for the people of Pakistan and other third world countries. Among its institutional strategies is the extension of its services to a wider variety of settings. These include the mountainous regions of the north, the rural areas of Sind and Baluchistan, and the urban areas of Karachi. In all these places, the University is trying to improve the health of people from all sectors of society through community-based primary health care and sophisticated clinical facilities.

These settings form a network which the University and its related organisations and institutions, including government, use to support education, research and service in which the University is involved.

This concept has moved the Aga Khan University onto new ground, in which it faces challenges to basic sciences, clinical sciences and community health sciences, often in field-based settings in which these problems originate. The concept poses complex choices for the University, including where to place educational, research and service priorities. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the University is to integrate these efforts and develop an academic environment in which students, faculty and staff have a collective understanding of the overall mission of the University and how their varied roles in these settings provide essential opportunities for their individual career development and for effectively addressing the health and health services problems of Pakistan.

The Karachi seminar will help the University set its own endeavours in these areas in a broader international context.

Source: Africa Ismaili (July 1989)

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