THE AGA Khan University, which commissioned its Kampala campus last week, will soon start admitting Tanzanian and Kenyan nurses to its Advanced Nursing Studies programme.
The first Ugandan students in an 18-month Enrolled Nurse-to-Registered Nurse conversion course at the university will complete their studies in July this year, while those on a 30-month Post-Registered Nurse, Bachelor of Science in Nursing programme are expected to graduate in 2003.
The Advanced Nursing Studies programme at the university was developed in response to requests from governments and nursing leaders in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and is already fully accredited in Uganda. The programme offers a flexible module approach and a community-based curriculum that will enable nurses to function effectively both in hospital settings and in the community.
Conceptualised by the School of Nursing at the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, one of South Asia's leading academic and research institutions in Health Sciences, the Advanced Nursing Studies programme is expected to incorporate additional courses that will cater for specifically identified needs such as education, management, accident/emergency and disaster nursing.
The Aga Khan University is an autonomous self-governing institution that was the first private university in Pakistan. It is chartered as an international university with the authority to operate programmes, branches and campuses anywhere in the world.
During the commissioning of the university's Kampala campus last week, Mr Abel Rwendeire, Uganda's Minister of Trade and Industry, described the launch of the major regional educational initiative as "an example of the long-term investment that will address the critical needs in health sector reform in East Africa.
"The institution is further evidence of the Aga Khan Development Network's commitment to social development in Uganda. It brings professional nursing training and tertiary education of the highest international standards in Uganda with a focus on our specific needs."
Through the university's continuous education programme, Mr Rwendeire noted, nurses will continue to earn while learning. Formerly the Minister of State for Higher Education and a long-time campaigner for continuing and higher education for nurses and other health professionals, Mr Rwendeire visited the Aga Khan University in Pakistan in 1999.
"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 said.
Conducting the minister and senior government officials on an informal tour of the campus premises, Ms Imelda Bagambaki, the Programme Academic Head, said that the facility would include a state-of-the-art skills laboratory, a library, lecture space and classrooms, as well as a computer laboratory.
Since entering into the Accord of Co-operation for Development with the government of Uganda in 1992, the Aga Khan Development Network has successfully completed a number of programmes to rehabilitate social development projects, particularly in the area of education.
Notable among these are pre-primary, primary and secondary schools and the Enhanced Universal Primary Education in Kampala (EUPEK) Resource Centre at the Makerere Road complex.