The Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery, AKU-SONAM, is an internationally-acclaimed university that has been working to improve the status of the nursing academia, research and clinical practice in developing countries for the past 40 years.
In its four decades of growth and impact, the School expanded its scope to support nursing in developing countries like Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The University's first academic initiative outside Pakistan, the Advanced Nursing Studies Programme, began in East Africa in 2001. Developed at the request of the governments and nursing leaders of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, it is designed to improve the quality of patient care by encouraging practising nurses to enhance their expertise through the pursuit of higher education. Since then the School has initiated several programmes in Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria.
Since 2002, the School has provided technical assistance to the nursing and midwifery diploma programmes at the Institute of Health Sciences in Afghanistan. It has also provided capacity building and strengthened government nursing education initiatives through curricular review and reforms, a focus on clinical practice, comprehensive faculty development, infrastructure improvement, and increased teaching-learning resources. The programme in Afghanistan will also provide consultancy to Afghanistan Midwifery Association to form a Council for Nursing and Midwifery to monitor the conduct of nursing and midwifery in Afghanistan.
Since 2008, the School has supported Kabul Medical University's BScN programme in setting academic policies, improving teaching quality and skills, establishing a well-equipped skills lab, preparing preliminary standards for accreditation and establishing clinical training for students.
The School began working in Egypt in 2005 on the Aswan Nursing Programme. The overall aim of this programme is to improve the quality of healthcare available in Aswan. The Aswan Nursing Programme consists of three major components:
Leadership and professional development amongst nurses in Aswan through increased higher education opportunities and needs-based short courses.
Establishment of a new Faculty of Nursing in Aswan through a public-private partnership with South Valley University in Aswan. The initiative aims to improve healthcare and the image of Nursing in the region. SON and Om Habibeh Foundation, a sister agency of the Aga Khan Development Network are currently preparing a proposal for this project.
Improvement of nursing services at selected hospitals in Aswan; capacity building of nurses through classroom training and exposure visits to AKU. A training facility will be established at the hospital and appropriate policies and systems are to be developed.
The School has been working with Syria since 2003. Since then a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education and Aga Khan Network Development and Aga Khan University. Another Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed for the period from 2008-2013. Since 2008, the School is providing technical assistance to Al-Baath University in Hama to strengthen their Post-RN BScN programme and to help establish their BScN programme.
In these programmes, SON has undertaken capacity building efforts to strengthen government nursing education initiatives through curricular review, a focus on clinical practice, comprehensive faculty development, infrastructure improvement and increased teaching-learning resources.