Dr Abdul Gaffar Billoo
Each year the University Awards Committee considers nominations for the honorary title of Professor Emeritus. To be considered for this prestigious title, a retired member of faculty with the rank of Professor or Associate Professor must have made an enduring impact on AKU’s scholarship, administration or service. The title, Professor Emeritus, signifies long, meaningful and distinctive contributions to the University and allows the recipient to participate in the academic life of the University as an honorary member of the faculty.
This year, the University has the honour of conferring this title on two inspiring individuals.
The first honoree is Dr. Abdul Gaffar Billoo.
Dr. Abdul Gaffar Billoo is a renowned pediatrician, professor and civil society leader in Pakistan. He has been at AKU since 1997, having served the University in various roles, most significantly as the Chair of the Department of Paediatrics from 1998 to 2004.
During his tenure at AKU, Dr. Billoo implemented an ambitious programme to reform postgraduate medical education, develop capacity of faculty, and build comprehensive continuing medical education opportunities for health professionals.
Dr. Billoo’s research work has been grounded in the grassroots in Pakistan, with scholarship in the areas of prevention and management of common childhood diseases at the community and hospital levels.
Dr. Billoo has however not restricted his work to the academic and tertiary care realm. While Chair of the Paediatric Department, Dr. Billoo established strong ties with Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan preparing first-line health workers for the integrated management of childhood illnesses.
Dr. Billoo has founded and currently chairs the Hygiene and Nutrition Development Society of Pakistan (or “HANDS”), which was conceived to increase access of children in interior Sindh to healthcare. The organization has reached over 19,000 villages through projects related to primary health care, social mobilization, education, poverty alleviation, livelihoods, social marketing, and water and sanitation.
The wider AKU community, including our donors, also know Dr. Billoo, as the Chair of our Faculty and Staff Resource Development Committee and a tireless fundraiser, who has made it his purpose to ensure that those who cannot afford high quality healthcare can still access it.
Dr. Billoo graduated from Dow Medical College, Karachi in 1959 and later completed a Diploma in Child Health, Glasgow and became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians, Glasgow and England and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh in 1986. He started his career in Pakistan at the Holy Family Hospital as the Chief of the Department of Paediatrics and then pursued a long and meaningful career at Dow Medical College from 1970 to 1994, before joining AKU.
In an interview, Dr. Billoo explained that he chose medicine as a career to help others, and paediatrics over surgery because children cannot express their pain as adults can. His feeling for the pain of humanity led him to make giant contributions to the upliftment of his fellow Pakistanis. For this we salute him.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Chancellor and members of the Board of Trustees to confer the title of Professor Emeritus on Dr. Abdul Gaffar Billoo.