The President’s Review​

December 2022​​

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December 2022









President’s Message












For AKU, 2022 was notable for its challenges, but even more so for its achievements. President Shahabuddin discusses the year in the video above, while the text below documents the highlights of 2022 in further detail. As our 40th anniversary approaches, the University is achieving new levels of impact and excellence in research, education and service.





















That the University is achieving international standards was confirmed this year by an array of US and European quality-assurance organizations. Our internal medicine residency in Kenya, the AKU-managed French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Afghanistan, and our secondary hospitals and regional laboratories in Pakistan all received new accreditations. In addition, our hospitals, laboratories and academic programmes were reaccredited by a number of organizations, including the Joint Commission International, the College of American Pathologists, AdvanceHE and the American Heart Association. In our geographies, we are among the few institutions or, in some cases, the only institution accredited by such organizations. In total, we earned a dozen accreditations in 2022.


The University was ranked among the leading universities locally, regionally and globally. U.S. News and World Report ranked AKU among the world’s top 30 universities in public, environmental and occupational health, and one of the top 100 universities in Asia. ShanghaiRanking placed us among the world’s top 75 universities in public health and the top 150 universities in clinical medicine. AKU faculty and staff also earned an array of prestigious national and internationalawards and honours, including a Gairdner Award and induction to the American Academy of Nursing and the US National Academy of Medicine.















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Despite a challenging operating environment, it was a productive year for our researchers. Twenty AKU faculty members are among the most highly cited researchers in the world, according to the latest edition of a well-known list by Stanford University’s John P.A. Ioannidis. These individuals are working in public health, neurology, oncology, microbiology, pharmacology and other fields. National Taiwan University named AKU one of the world’s top 300 universities in medical research, making it one of only six institutions in South Asia and Africa in the top 300. Overall, faculty members published 1,396 studies in peer-reviewed journals – a new record.









The Floods












This year’s monsoon rains in Pakistan shattered records dating back 60 years, and the resulting flooding devastated the country’s people and economy. AKU’s response was commensurate to the crisis. We established health camps in 41 districts in four provinces. Staffed by hundreds of faculty, staff and students, they provided outpatient services to more than 420,000 individuals and vaccinated 35,000 children. We are grateful to the generous donors who supported our efforts, which are part of the larger AKDN flood response backed by a $10 million donation from the Ismaili Imamat. You can watch us in action here, learn more about our work from this interview with Dean Adil Haider by Global Health Now and get perspective on the overall crisis from this article inThe Lancet.









Climate Change






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2022 will go down in AKU’s history as a year in which it took major steps to address climate change. We adopted our first Environment and Decarbonisation Plan, a detailed document outlining the steps we need to take to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. In the years ahead, we will be ramping up our use of renewable energy, increasing our energy efficiency and changing many of our routine practices. We will also be sharing our experience and growing expertise in this area with other institutions to help them reduce their own carbon emissions.


Already, we have installed nearly 1,200 solar panels at our Karachi and Nairobi campuses, seen our new University Centre in Nairobi certified for its energy efficiency and made our carbon-tracking methodology (co-developed with the Aga Khan Health Services) available to other organizations. Our 3,700-acre research site in Arusha, Tanzania will be a living laboratory for studies related to climate change and the environment. AKU faculty members are devoting increasing attention to the problem of climate change. See, for example, the call for action that Dean Lukoye Atwoli and his co-authors published in more than 250 scientific journals ahead of the COP27 Climate Change Conference. Meanwhile, the second season of our documentary series Voices from the Roof of the World explores the impact of climate change on the mountainous regions of Pakistan and its neighbors.









East Africa Milestones






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The year saw several major milestones in East Africa. In Uganda, we started construction on our new 60-acre Kampala campus, which will feature a seven-story academic centre, a nine-story dormitory and a hospital with 100 beds in its first phase. Construction of the academic and dormitory buildings is underway. Hospital construction is expected to start in 2024.


After years of preparation and hard work by our leadership and staff, the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi became the first in East Africa to implement an integrated electronic health records system. Completion of this initiative – the largest non-construction project in the University’s history – is a major achievement that will improve care for our patients and yield data that enables innovative research. We received key regulatory approvals in East Africa that pave the way for the launch of our Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2023. The establishment of these programmes will mark the start of a new era in the University’s history in East Africa. In addition, we saw two of our newest research centres in the region make major strides toward their goals of supporting better mental health and enhancing early child development.









Beyond the Health Sciences






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We took important steps toward our goal of becoming a comprehensive university, active in all the major branches of knowledge. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Karachi is at the forefront of that effort. With Dean Stephen Lyon now at the helm, it will welcome its inaugural class in 2023 and begin educating future leaders through a wide-ranging curriculum that spans the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.


The launch of FAS is only the latest step AKU has taken beyond the health sciences. The Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in London celebrated its 20th year in fine style, with books, articles and exhibitions on subjects such as Islamic studies, Turkish history, the historic mosques of Sub-Saharan Africa and the intersection of football and religion. The Graduate School of Media and Communications closed out its eighth year with the launch of a report on media innovation in East Africa and an eight-week course on climate change reporting. In the wake of its nationwide study of math and science education, the Institute for Educational Development, Pakistan released an important white paper on teaching licensure. It was another strong year for the AKU Examination Board, whose success has steadily expanded access to high-quality secondary education for low- and middle-income families. Meanwhile, the Institute for Educational Development, East Africa has a new part-time master’s degree.















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From its inception, AKU has partnered with government to strengthen public health and education systems. Our flood response, detailed above, was only one example in 2022. In Pakistan, AKU is working with government to increase access to family planning and immunization, eradicate polio, train thousands in CPR, support care for severely ill COVID-19 patients and improve maternal and child health in Gilgit-Baltistan with a custom-built mobile app. In East Africa, AKU and the Aga Khan Health Services are helping government to vaccinate the population against COVID-19, while the Institute for Educational Development is training head teachers from public schools in leadership and management. In addition, AKU led the development of Kenya’s first national policy on nursing and midwifery.


At the same time, the University continues to forge new partnerships and renew existing collaborations with local and international institutions. In 2022, these included Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, Baylor University, the University of York, the WHO and others.









AKU Turns 40!






With the arrival of the New Year comes a significant milestone of Aga Khan University. We look forward with much excitement to commemorating this occasion with everyone in our AKU family, including all of our supporters around the world. On 16th March 2023, AKU will mark its 40th anniversary of the granting of its first University Charter in Pakistan. On this day, AKU will hold its inaugural Founder’s Day, where we will pay tribute to the vision of our Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan, and celebrate the impact of the University and its people. On Saturday, 18th March, AKU will hold its Global Convocation ceremony, where we will be graduating classes of 2023 as they begin the newest chapter in their lives. These events will be followed by others throughout the year till March 2024, which will highlight the University’s impact in a wide array of disciplines. We will share with you very soon details on how all of the University’s friends and supporters will be able to connect to these events so that we can celebrate this important milestone together.









Did You See…












Despite the challenging circumstances in Afghanistan, the AKU-managed French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children in Kabul has cared for more than 170,000 patients this year. We are also proud to report that one-third of FMIC’s newest batch of residents are women. 






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Tom Payette, who led the design of AKU’s Stadium Road campus in Karachi, passed away in November at the age of 90. This article provides an in-depth look at his role in the development of the campus and its distinctive architecture.























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