Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses the gathering at the inauguration of the Aga Khan University Hospital Heart and Cancer Centre in Nairobi. Ejaz Karmali
Nairobi, 25 July 2011 – Thousands of Ismailis gathered at the Parklands Complex in Nairobi to witness the opening of a new Heart and Cancer Centre. The Aga Khan University Hospital facility was inaugurated by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam.
The Heart and Cancer Centre brings international standards of patient care in cardiology and oncology treatment to Kenya, positioning the University Hospital as a hub in an integrated AKDN health system being established in East Africa. It also represents a significant expansion for the Aga Khan University's Faculty of Health Sciences in the region.
“It gives me great pleasure to preside over the opening of the Heart and Cancer Centre of the Aga Khan University hospital,” said President Kibaki. “The opening of this Centre is a major milestone towards bringing world class healthcare and medical education to Kenya and the wider East African region.”
Recalling the Ismaili Imamat's long tradition of caring for the wellness of people that stretches back a thousand years to the great hospitals of the Fatimid era, Mawlana Hazar Imam described the opening of the Centre as a “benchmark moment.”
Princess Zahra meets with members of the Aga Khan University Hospital staff in Nairobi. Aziz Islamshah
“Today's inauguration of the Heart and Cancer Centre follows in this long tradition, and points the way to broader, future horizons,” said Hazar Imam.
The Centre is part of the Aga Khan University's long term development agenda for its Faculty of Health Sciences, which includes the expansion of the Nairobi University Hospital to a 600-bed tertiary care facility and the establishment of an Undergraduate Medical Education Programme, an Undergraduate Nursing Programme and a School of Allied Health Professionals.
“It is a substantial, demanding agenda,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam, “and the agenda for our health-related programmes is equally ambitious.”
“We see our medical programmes here in Nairobi as nodes in a broad, regional health care network, reaching from Arusha to Kampala, from Nyeri to Mtwara and from Kigali to Malindi. Our goal is an integrated, best practice regional health system – providing a continuum of services from preventive and primary care to tertiary hospital-based care.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam bids farewell to Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, as Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University, looks on. Ejaz Karmali
The integrated regional health system for East Africa envisioned by the Imam responds to emerging health trends in the developing world. According to the World Health Organisation, 70 per cent of new cancers in the next 15 years will occur in developing countries, affecting younger working-age populations. Developing countries will therefore face a growing burden of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease alongside existing infectious diseases.
“The opening of the Heart and Cancer Centre is, therefore, a timely response to this threat as it will provide quality care and also create local capacity by training future generations of doctors in the specialties of cardiology and oncology,” noted President Kibaki. The President also praised the Aga Khan University Hospitals' Patient Welfare Programme, which provides an average subsidy of 50 per cent of the cost of care to those for whom it would otherwise be unaffordable.
The $50-million Heart and Cancer Centre was established with financial support from the Government of France, as well as the assistance of numerous partner institutions including the University of Alberta and the University of California in San Francisco.
“Without this international support, from France and others, including many individual donors, our solidly founded initiatives for the future would be but slender dreams,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam.
The Jamat gathered at the Parklands Complex to watch Mawlana Hazar Imam and President Kibaki inaugurate the Aga Khan University Heart and Cancer Centre in Nairobi. Altaf Jiwa
TheIsmaili.org will continue to provide updates on Mawlana Hazar Imam's East Africa visit in the coming days.