Training for health workers in the East African region got a major boost with the commissioning of the first international campus of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kampala last week.
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 in advanced stages.
In Uganda, the first batch of students in the Enrolled Nurse and Registered Nurse departments will complete their studies in July after 18 months, while those on a 30-month post-Registered Nurse, Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programme will graduate in 2003.
Recognising the value of 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 hospital and in the community.
Welcoming the commissioning of the first international campus of the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kampala, Mr Abel Rwendeire, Minister of Trade and Industry, said the initiative will boost education opportunities in the country, adding that the physical facilities at AKU were modern.
"The future of the health sector in this country and the region as a whole is being underwritten by this vital investment in human resource capacity building," he added.
Mr 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 described the initiative as "an example of long-term investment that will address a critical need in health sector reform in the region."
Conducting the ministers and senior government officials on an informal tour of the premises, Imelda Bagambaki, the Programme's Academic Head, pointed out that the facility will include a state-of-the-art skills laboratory, a library, lecture hall, and classrooms, as well as a computer laboratory.
Conceptualised by the School of Nursing at the AKU (Pakistan), one of South Asia's leading academic and research institutions in health sciences, the programme will incorporate additional courses that will cater to specifically identified needs such as education, management, accident/emergency and disaster nursing.
Since signing an Accord of Cooperation for Development with the Government of Uganda in 1992, the Aga Khan Development Network has played a key role in expansion of the education sector.
Notable among 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.