His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Chancellor of Aga Khan University (AKU) today inaugurated the US $8.4 million Ibn Zuhr Building for Oncology Services at AKU’s Karachi campus.
The building, named after the great Muslim physician Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik Ibn Zuhr (1091-1161 A.D), is a comprehensive cancer centre with state-of-the-art equipment, offering a wide range of facilities such as screening, diagnostic and treatment services, including high quality nuclear imaging, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical oncology services, and cancer research facilities - all under one roof.
The new addition to the 654-bed Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi is the first of its kind in Sindh and will provide a much needed service in a country where five to ten percent of the population could suffer from cancer in their lifetime. At AKUH alone, approximately 12,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer each year. The Centre is even more critical as the prevalence of cancer continues to rise; according to WHO estimates, two-thirds of all cancer cases will be observed in developing countries by 2025.
Acknowledging the support of both corporate and individual donors at the building’s inauguration ceremony, the Aga Khan said, “It is through the generous contribution of donors, that we are able to excel in the area of health care and to recruit the most qualified personnel, and provide facilities and services that are setting the highest standards not only in Pakistan but indeed worldwide.”
“Many of our faculty and trustees come from different parts of the world including the areas of the western world where Ibn Zuhr worked and carried out his research,” continued the Aga Khan. “There is a symbol here - knowledge can be drawn from any frontier to create strong institutions, if it is drawn wisely.”
The Ibn Zuhr Building, a four-storey building with an area of 42,454 sq. ft, is located near the University Hospital’s entrance on Stadium Road. While half of the total project cost was funded by the University, an equal proportion, US $4.2 million, was raised through donations received from 74 generous individuals and donor groups, from Karachi and across Pakistan.
The Chancellor also expressed satisfaction that services provided at the Ibn Zuhr Building will be accessible to those who cannot afford the full cost of their treatment, through the support of the University Hospital’s Patient Welfare Programme. “This is your commitment to society at large,” he told donors attending the ceremony. “Today, AKU is a truly national University, because the full spectrum of people of this wonderful country, have come forward and have supported it.”
Commenting on recent expansion of tertiary care at the University Hospital including the Khimji Building for cardiac care, the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and the new Ibn Zuhr Building that will provide comprehensive oncology care, AKU President Shamsh Kassim-Lakha reiterated the need for the University to continuously extend its services in order to address the overall health needs of the country.
Also during his visit to the campus, the Chancellor inaugurated the new Faculty Office Building funded by the University. The new building will house 155 faculty and staff from Aga Khan University’s departments of Medicine, Paediatrics and Psychiatry.
The Aga Khan commended on the importance of the consultation process that took place before the building had been constructed. “The new facilities are an expression of the University’s belief that it must care for its faculty and staff, providing them with the most conducive work environment,” he stated, adding that if AKU is to stay ahead and be the role model institution that it aspires to be, it will need to attract bright young minds and experienced faculty members.
Dr David Taylor, Acting Provost of AKU, advocated the importance of creating a favourable atmosphere for research, scholarly pursuits and service, while Dr Iqtidar Khan, Professor of Paediatrics and Chair of the User Committee, Faculty Office Building, expressed gratitude to the Chancellor and Trustees for providing this new and much needed facility.
On December 3, 2005, His Highness the Aga Khan will preside over the 18th Convocation ceremony of AKU, which will honour some 275 graduates in the fields of medicine, nursing and education. The University has so far graduated 3,684 doctors, school teachers, and nurses from all over Pakistan and abroad.