Dean’s Communiqué

July 2018 | Edition 03





Dear Colleagues,


I am thoroughly thrilled to share this particular communiqué edition with you all that speaks volumes about the School’s tremendous growth in terms of new academic, research and clinical initiatives as well as strategic partnerships. It has been an amazing year for us so far and the future looks even more promising. We understand that for a sustainable model, it is very important that our leaders driving the force are competent and focused, and we have been doing just that; strengthening and building on their competencies. This edition covers the many developments that have happened at the School in the past few months. Please read on.


SONAM researchers study mental health of pregnant women


Sharifa Lalani and Kiran Shaikh have been awarded Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships. The two researchers will be working closely with Dr Shahirose Premji and Dr Nicole Letourneau of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Nursing in Canada to study the relationship between pregnancy-related anxiety and epigenetics and its effect on preterm births in Pakistan.


Dr Premji also recently visited the School last month and met with the researchers and medical consultants to discuss psychiatric referrals and future plans for research expansion.







Eyeing collaboration with the Universidade Católica Portuguesa


Last six months saw a couple of visits from the Portuguese government officials, healthcare professionals as well as from the leadership of Universidade Católica Portuguesa to AKU.


Our faculty had a very fruitful session with the delegation where they were briefed about our teaching, learning and undergraduate programmes, research initiatives, clinical practice as well as our outreach activities.


The recent development in the establishment of a formal seat of Imamate in Portugal has opened up myriad collaboration opportunities for the entity as well as for the University on the whole. The School’s outreach unit is devising plans on building a strategic partnership with the University.

Faculty gets trained on Virtual Learning Environment


In May, as many as 60 faculty members from the School were trained on Virtual Learning Environment to enable them to have an online presence of their respective courses in line with the University’s vision. The same training sessions were recently conducted for our colleagues in East Africa as well with the aim of expanding our joint education activities and running joint courses in the future.


I would like to congratulate our Blending Learning team for running these successful workshops in both the regions.

IND and IDM 2018 celebrations


This year, International Nurses Day and International Day of the Midwife was celebrated with much fervour as workshops, conference and walk were organised through the first week of May to recognize and stress on the expanding role of nurses and midwives as leaders in healthcare. SONAM’s Dr Yasmin Amarsi was also conferred with a lifetime achievement award during the event.


I was invited to the Central Java International Nursing Conference hosted by the Indonesian National Nurse Association where I spoke on “Nursing intervention to promote public health in Pakistan based on cultural diversity”. It was a great opportunity to connect with various nursing schools in Semarang, Indonesia and to explore the dynamics of their work. Our Assistant Dean Khairulnissa Ajani also had an opportunity to be the chief guest of the event at Murshid School of Nursing and Midwifery where they commemorated the day.









Ms Khairulnissa Ajani’s take on the expanding role of a nurse



My message to the practicing nurses and midwives of Pakistan



Message from Dr Jacqueline Maria Dias to the aspiring nurse students



Taking a trip down memory lane and remembering our students from 30 years ago



Learning about SONAM’s impact in Pakistan in producing nurse leaders & introducing new degrees



An AKUH head nurse talks about his experiences as leading a team of nurses at the NICU


SONAM leads Reproductive and Sexual Health Consortium


Dr Tazeen S. Ali and her team successfully launched the Reproductive and Sexual Health Consortium that comprises members of different departments of AKUH and key Pakistan NGOs, and is supported by CoE WCH and members of the government. The research team has worked tirelessly to bring together this team of competent people from across Pakistan who would be jointly working to study and address sexual and reproductive issues in Pakistan and seek funding for vital research projects.


A kick-off event took place at the University in April where Provost Carl Amrhein acknowledged the significance and potential of this Consortium.



Promoting diversified clinical exposure

Nurse interns in Gilgit


I am particularly happy to share with you that four of our nurse interns are currently doing their 12-week clinical placement at the Gilgit Medical Centre. It is an important step towards diversifying the clinical exposure for our future nurse leaders in clinical practice. This is in line with our efforts to prepare our students adequately for increasing patient complexity as they work in a different clinical setup. The faculty plans to continue this in future.


I am equally thrilled to share another good news in this regard. The School has submitted a concept note to the University’s Academic Council that elaborates on expanding its footprint in Pakistan by opening a new

nursing and midwifery school in Gilgit. The plan shared with the Council aims for the School to begin its operations with an intake of students in 2021 subject to approvals.

Community placement opportunity in Sindh


In June, I had a chance to travel to interior Sindh along with our colleagues from the School and Family Medicine. We visited the Aga Khan Health Services medical centre in Mir Pur Sakro and aimed to explore the facility as a clinical and community placement opportunity for our students and faculty members and look forward to the support of AKHSP and CHS to carry out this initiative.


We have collectively proposed Sakro district, Dow University and Baldia Town as new placements for clinical experience, faculty practice, community service and research.

Advocating leadership in midwifery: One step at a time


The School’s Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health stream had been working on preparing a detailed proposal on the shared care model as well as the midwifery-led model that would allow midwives to practice independently. The initiative, which is also supported by the Obstetrics Service Line, is about to be presented to the credentialing committee of AKUH. I am convinced that together we would succeed in adopting globally recommended transformational leadership style in midwifery and neonatal care.




Our faculty Shahnaz Shahid spoke wonderfully on this theme on Samaa TV’s live morning show and stressed on how midwives are preparing themselves to lead and influence the healthcare environment and their individual communities.




I am delighted to have had Professor Grace Edwards, our very own faculty and expert midwife from East Africa, visit us in March. She conducted an outstanding session on the shared care model and hands-on workshops for our Post RM BScM students for clinical competency building.







I am also deeply grateful to Dr Shershah Syed of Koohi Goth Hospital who, along with his team, facilitated midwifery updates for our faculty midwives as well as offered his facility to our students to gain valuable midwifery exposure. The model hospital is a purpose-built facility that allows midwives to be an integral part of the healthcare team.

Allied Health School: SONAM working on preliminary feasibility evaluation


In June, I and my colleague Lubna Ghazal presented our ideas on the Allied Health School at the Aga Khan Health Service Leadership Conference held in Mombassa. The ideas were very well received and we see a strong interest in the development of a suite of integrative, interdisciplinary courses at the BS level.


Our faculty Samina Vertejee is leading the project and she, along with her team, is carrying out a preliminary evaluation of the dynamics of this degree programme. We are hoping to work on this project with various other departments at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan as well as in East Africa.



Faculty writes on “Aging in Pakistan”


Samina Vertejee has recently contributed in the June–July 2018 bulletin by Active Aging Consortium Asia Pacific. Ms Vertejee is also heading SONAM’s Geriatric and Gerontology clinical stream.


She shares stories of a number of elderly individuals who have been mistreated by their families and society.






PhD and Postdoc – Keep them coming!


Our first postdoc, Dr Tazeen S. Ali has recently come back from her visit to Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where she was pursuing her postdoctoral programme in Equity and Policy Development. She has also done some impressive work with colleagues in nursing and midwifery to forge new links for doctoral studies and we can’t wait to building more future partnerships and collaborations.


Another faculty member Shireen Shehzad has been accepted to Ghent University in Belgium to pursue her PhD on perinatal depression. We hope that she is the first of many SONAM faculty members to study and work with this great university.


We would be happy to receive your comments and feedback. Please write to us at sonam.pk@aku.edu