Retrospective: His Highness the Aga Khan received the 2001 Archon Award for his efforts in promoting global health care

…the Society’s President Patricia Thompson described the Aga Khan as a “remarkable individual who during the course of his distinguished life, continues to leave upon world health, the indelible mark of a world class leader.”

His Highness the Aga Khan delivering speech at the Archon Award Ceremony of  Sigma Theta Tau International
His Highness the Aga Khan delivering speech at the Archon Award Ceremony of Sigma Theta Tau International (Image: Sigma Theta Tau International)

Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 June 2001 — His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and founder of one of the largest private networks of healthcare institutions in the developing world, this evening received the prestigious Archon Award from the international nursing honour society, Sigma Theta Tau International. The Award Ceremony took place as delegates from around the world gathered in Copenhagen for the 12th International Nursing Research Congress and the International Council of Nurses’ 22nd Quadrennial Congress.

The Archon Awards – from the Greek word meaning “first to lead” – are granted biennially to individuals who, regardless of their profession, have made health advocacy a major aspect of their lives and whose efforts have created significant change that is far-reaching in scope.

The Award citation highlighted the Aga Khan’s “leadership in promoting global health and welfare and for his compassionate support of nursing and nursing research in developing countries.”

Calling the occasion “a unique moment – not only for nursing, but for health care,” the Society’s President Patricia Thompson described the Aga Khan as a “remarkable individual who during the course of his distinguished life, continues to leave upon world health, the indelible mark of a world class leader.”*

In his address, His Highness remarked:

It is particularly meaningful to receive this recognition from Sigma Theta Tau with its record of focussed dedication to the global advancement of nursing. I have long felt the enhancement of the nursing profession to be absolutely critical to the improvement of health care in the developing world, and the Islamic world. The way forward was to professionalise, to institutionalise, and to dignify this great profession.

More than twenty-five years ago, these were some of the central concerns that led to the establishment of the Aga Khan University in Karachi and its School of Nursing. Universities have the unique capacity for forming the human resources necessary for all fields of human development. Given the state of health services in Pakistan at that time, I felt it particularly important to create an institution in the country that could offer education in the health professions at international standards. This would ensure that the teaching and research programmes would be of the highest quality, but would also be grounded in local needs and realities, and that, if properly funded and led, could make a distinctive contribution on a permanent basis.”

Speech at AKDN Press Centre

References:
*AKDN Press Release
Sigma Theta Tau International

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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