AKU - News and Events
News 2009
Urban Health Programme Wins Award

April 16, 2009

Karachi, Pakistan

The Talloires Network and the MacJannet Foundation today announced the winners of the first annual MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. The first place winner is Aga Khan University's Urban Health Programme. This innovative and long-standing programme focuses on providing primary health care and socio-economic support in katchi abadis in Karachi.

The MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship recognises exceptional student civic engagement initiatives based in the Talloires Network member universities around the world and contributes financially to their ongoing public service efforts. Sixty-seven programmes from 40 universities in 19 countries around the world competed for this year's award.

The University's Department of Community Health Sciences' Urban Health Programme started in 1985, when medical training was limited to hospitals and public health efforts in communities received little attention in Pakistan. Through the programme, university medical and nursing students, residents, interns and national and international elective students spend part of their practicum in the katchi abadis of Sultanabad, Hijrat Colony and Rehri Goth. Students provide basic health care services and engage with communities for research and service projects that cover issues ranging from illiteracy and environmental degradation to domestic violence and women's issues. As the programme has evolved, residents in these settlements, which have a combined population of 85,000, have been motivated to form their own community-based organisations, initiate micro-credit and cottage industry projects, invest in girls' education and women's skill development, and advocate with local authorities for clean water and sanitation with the help of the students.

“The Programme links with the community at a grass roots level through consultative meetings and discussions, by involving people in different activities and helping them develop ties with government departments and NGOs. It has provided training through which many new community members have emerged to play leadership roles in the community,” said Ali Muhammad Jat, a member of the executive body of the Rehri Goth Health and Development Organisation, one of the partners of the Urban Health Programme. “At Rehri Goth, over 600 young girls have been educated through community-based schools. This has led to many girls becoming teachers, local health workers and lady health workers in the national Lady Health Workers programme. We feel that this will have a lasting impact on the community. The programme still continues, with more than 300 girls enrolled.”

The Urban Health Programme is a model for sustainable university-based civic engagement work and has inspired similar community-based programmes at other local universities. Many graduates of Aga Khan University, encouraged by their hands-on work through the Programme, now serve in ministries of health, national and international organisations and academia, finding ways to continue their commitment to public health and poverty alleviation. “No matter what professional path they choose, our students have an orientation that helps shape their perspective, and create leaders who can make informed decisions in the future,” said Dr Parvez Nayani, Head, Community Health Division and Senior Instructor, Community Health Sciences Department.

The two second place winners were Opération 7ème Jour (Operation 7th Day) at l'Université Saint-Joseph in Lebanon and Theewaterskloof International Community Development Project at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa. There were five third place winners. The prizes will be awarded in Talloires, France on June 6, 2009.

About Aga Khan University

AKU was chartered in 1983 as an international university. Its objective is to promote human welfare in general, and the welfare of the people of Pakistan in particular, by disseminating knowledge and providing instruction, training, research and service in the health sciences, education and such other branches of learning as the University may determine. AKU also has programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt.

About the MacJannet Foundation

The MacJannet Foundation carries out the life work of Donald and Charlotte MacJannet by offering scholarship programs, awards, and other financial support for the Tufts University European Center Further information is available at http://www.macjannet.org.

About the Talloires Network

The Talloires Network, is an international association of institutions committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education. Further information is available at http://www.tufts.edu/talloiresnetwork.