​Dean's Communiqué​



Dean’s Communiqué | Edition 10

Dear colleagues, alumni, students and members of the AKU community,

It is my pleasure to be introducing you all to the great start that the School has had to the academic year 2020 in terms of its progress and growth. We have seen improved academic, research and clinical initiatives as well as the start of new strategic partnerships


Even more exciting is the fact that with 2020, we have entered the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” as designated by WHO. This year, the world celebrates the contributions made by nurses and their critical role in health promotion, disease prevention and quality healthcare.

As 2020 becomes the landmark year in health, I believe that there is no better time than now to acknowledge the role and scope of advanced practice nursing and how it will enable us to fulfil the goals of universal health coverage and those envisioned in SDGs.


While we prepare to celebrate the international year of the nurse and midwife, at SONAM, the celebrations are doubled as the School also celebrates its 40th anniversary this year! I know my colleagues at SONAM and the University would join me in taking pride in all that the School has accomplished in its four decades of existence, its remarkable growth over the years and the contributions it has made for the profession of nursing in Pakistan.


While the School is abuzz with activities, I must say that in this new position I have been entrusted with, I feel honoured to be leading a team of very talented and committed individuals at SONAM, and working in collaboration with my distinguished colleagues throughout AKU. I look forward to working with all of you, and together we will make 2020 a memorable year for us.

As I conclude my message, I welcome you to read through the first edition of this year’s Communiqué.


Peaceful thoughts!







Partnering to promote sexual and reproductive health

I recently signed an MoU with
Pathfinder International on behalf of the Aga Khan University, which will enable experts in both organisations to collaborate on multiple research projects and service delivery programmes focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights, SRHR.

Pathfinder champions SRHR worldwide and this is an exciting development as it paves the way for numerous other collaborations not just for SONAM but also for other departments including Community Health Sciences, Paediatrics and Women and Child Health, to name a few. I encourage my colleagues at the University to share any proposals or ideas you may have to make the most of this partnership. 

This area of research is very close to my heart and I express my complete support to Dr Tazeen Ali, who is spearheading the project, and I wish her team good luck!







Ed10-Right to Play.png


Collaborating with schools to fight violence against adolescents


Following the extensive study on Preventing Peer Violence Against Children that I had been part of, thanks to the US Embassy Pakistan for arranging a US/Pakistan Exchange Program with Right to Play and Women Win International, we were visited by a delegation of professionals from the US working on different fronts in the field of women empowerment and sports intervention but united under the Right to Play umbrella.

During their visit, we had an interactive discussion on preventing violence using play intervention in our local context and we also detailed them about our research study.  

This visit was very favourable for the School on the research front and especially for future grants and partnerships. I hope to see more of such opportunities and international visits for the benefit and development of SONAM’s research unit.

​Delegation from Canadian High Commission visits AKU

We were recently visited by the First Secretary of High Commission of Canada, Ms. Emilie Milory, along with some other officials including Ms. Benazir Jatoi, Consultant Gender Advisor, Canadian High Commission. I led a meeting along with Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta and other notable colleagues from the University where we gave them an overview of the Institution; our activities, impact and achievements, and our partnership projects with entities in Canada. A grant was also signed for the Sehatmand Khandan project.

 Journalists’ role in preventing suicides in GBC

AKDN recently arranged a visit of 17 journalists from the Gilgit, Baltistan & Chitral (GBC) region to AKU, Karachi, facilitated by the Office of Communications. I had the pleasure of conducting two sessions with them: one on the outreach activities of AKU in GBC and second, a workshop on the dos and don’ts of media reporting of suicide cases in which Dr Ayesha Mian also talked about mental health issues prevalent in the region.


Ed10-GBC2.png ​It was a very informative session even for us as we got a lot of insight into the educational and healthcare needs of the GBC region as well as the perspective of  journalists on the prevailing mental health issues.


I am looking forward to even more collaborations with them and better progress of our work in that region, with their ongoing help.







SONAM’s ripple effect in nursing education


To help overcome a shortage of qualified nurses, the Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB), a public sector university in South Punjab, intends to establish a College of Nursing for graduate and post-graduate studies. The University’s Vice Chancellor Engr. Professor Dr Athar Mahboob with his colleagues recently visited SONAM to understand the model for developing quality nursing education.


It is always heartwarming to see the impact that SONAM has created on nursing education and practice, and for local universities to see us as an inspiration in developing their nursing education programmes. We were honoured to be of help to IUB and hope to engage in more collaborations in the future.



Capacity building workshops for DUHS faculty

Throughout the course of December and January, our talented faculty members were actively involved in conducting different workshops for the faculty of Dow University of Health Sciences as part of our partnership with them. Following are the trainings that were held:


·        Designing science courses, integrated with skills-based laboratory sessions and trainings.
Facilitated by Shehla Khan, Naghma Rizvi and Shagufta Iqbal.

·       ‘Research Proposal Development’ course for MScN students and faculty members.
Facilitated by Yasmin Parpio

·        Training on conducting simulation sessions and using skills-based lab as teaching/learning resources.

Facilitated by Zulekha Saleem, Parveen Chagani and Khairunnisa Mansoor.

·        Thesis mentorship workshop for DUHS faculty who supervise theses at MScN level.

Facilitated by Dr David Arthur, Dr Tazeen Ali, Dr Rubina Barolia and Dr Laila Ladak.

·        SONAM’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) stream received a funding of PKR 500,000 from Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health (PNFWH) to conduct a 10-day Training of Trainers workshop for midwifery faculty members of DUHS School of Nursing and practicing midwives
at Koohi Goth Hospital.
Lead facilitators were Kiran Mubeen and Sadia Abbas.





RhoDelta.jpgPhoto by Ralph Alswang

​Rho Delta: Representing Pakistan


Overjoyed at seeing our flag upfront at the 45th Biennial Convention of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honor Society of Nursing recently held in Washington, DC.

Dr Rubina Barolia was the flag bearer, and faculty members Salima Farooq and Yasmin Parpio presented their research papers and represented AKU and the Rho Delta chapter at such a large-scale international event. 


 Induction and anniversary


Rho Delta chapter of STTI also celebrated its 19th anniversary and 20th induction ceremony on December 19, 2019. 

A total of 62 new members were inducted into the chapter. Many thanks and heartiest congratulations to Dr Rubina Barolia on the excellent job as the Chapter’s President for the past two years. As she steps down from the role, the very talented Munira Amin takes her place as the new president elect of the chapter. I would like to congratulate and wish her the very best in this new role for the next two years.







 SONAM welcomes the Class of 2023

With 2020 off to a great start, it was wonderful to welcome a fresh batch of 193 new students into our SONAM family, of these 148 are enrolled in BScN, 17 in Post-RN BScN and 28 in the Master’s programme.

These students are characterised by their high achievements and diversity, and we are thrilled to have them continuing the legacy of academic excellence, collaboration, and service that characterises our community.

I hope this batch will go far and make us proud in every step of their AKU journey and beyond! 


I would also like to congratulate ODOS as well as our Assistant Dean of Teaching, Learning & Undergraduate Programmes, Khairulnissa Ajani and her team of faculty members for transforming the traditional design of the Orientation Week into an innovative and robust one, full of interactive activities for the students.  





YP.png Photo by Ralph Alswang



Yasmin Parpio

Sigma Theta Tau International

Honor Society of Nursing

Assistant Professor, Yasmin Parpio, also the former president of Rho Delta chapter, has been elected for the position of Regional Coordinator, Middle Eastern region of STTI, for the second time in a row at the Society’s 45th Biennial Convention. I am proud to say that she is the first nurse from not just AKU or Pakistan but the whole of South Asia to be chosen for this leadership role. Way to go, Yasmin! 





Zohra Kurji
Nurse-led Lactation Clinic

Congratulations to our faculty Zohra Kurji on receiving funding to start the first nurse-led lactation consultant clinic at AKU after approval from the University Research Council. Special thanks to alumna Yasmin Mithani (Post-RN BScN ’01, RN ’93) for facilitating Zohra’s training in the US under experienced lactation consultants at the Women’s Hospital of Texas, USA.


This initiative will immensely help develop advanced practice nursing roles in the country. I wish her the best of luck!



 Salima Farooq
Mental Health Stream

I am pleased to announce that our faculty Salima Farooq from the mental health clinical stream, has had her research manuscript published in the British Medical Journal.


Her paper on the “prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms and their association with multi-morbidity and demographic factors” can be read here



​​SV.png Samina Vertejee

Geriatrics & Gerontology


Geriatrics stream lead, Samina Vertejee has recently received a PKR 800,000 grant for her project: “Fall Prevention Program in Karachi, Pakistan for community-dwelling older people: Its acceptance and effectiveness in the local context.”

I wish her good luck for this project that she will be leading with her Co-PI’s, Azmat Jehan and Dr Tazeen Ali.



Laila Cassum
Geriatrics & Gerontology


Adding to the great work being done by our geriatrics clinical stream, I am happy to share that our faculty Laila Cassum recently had her MScN thesis manuscript published in BMC Geriatrics

Her paper on “exploring the experiences of older adults who are brought to live in shelter homes in Karachi” can be read here


OldSONAM1.png Down the memory lane

An iconic photo of SON staff members taken 33 years ago in the same spot.
L to R: Razia Mirza, Unknown, Qamar Bharochia. Year taken: 1987




Mixed-Method Research | PhD level course

January – April, 2020
Course Director:
Dr Rubina Barolia
Associate Professor and Assistant Dean,
Clinical Practice, AKU-SONAM​


Teaching for Critical Thinking | Graduate Level Course

December 2019 - May 2020

Course Director:
Shanaz Cassum
Assistant Professor, AKU-SONAM


We would be happy to receive your comments and feedback.

Please write to us at sonam.pk@aku.edu