The history of the Aga Khan Health Services

The history of the Aga Khan Health ServicesThe history of health centres and hospitals established by the AKHS begins with facilities in towns and cities in the colonial period in Kenya and Tanganyika. These institutions underwent further development when these countries gained independence in the 1960s, and are now part of a network of health facilities in East Africa which include clinics, general hospitals, and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi. The Aga Khan Hospitals are part of an international referral network, with links to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi and Karachi. Doctors need not be affiliated to the Aga Khan Hospitals to refer patients to its comprehensive healthcare network.

Many of the hospitals have been awarded the ISO – International Standard of Organisation. This certificate is awarded only when a hospital’s clinical, diagnostic, administrative and support services conform to the ISO standards.

Aga Khan Hospital Mombasa was established in 1944.
Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu was established in 1952. In 2004, the Hospital was awarded the ISO 9001:2000 certificate.

Dar es Salaam
The first dispensary, providing free medical services in Dar es Salaam, was established in 1929. A 10-bed maternity home was opened in 1939. In 1948, a nursing home was built, equipped with surgical facilities and 32 in-patient beds. The current 70-bed facility was constructed in 1964. Medical facilities were simultaneously established in the towns of Arusha, Moshi, Mwanza, Morogoro, Mbeya, Iringa, and Dodoma. The construction of a new building was completed in 2000, expanding the Hospital to its current 74 beds. In 2003, the Hospital was awarded the ISO 9001:2000.

Aga Khan University (AKU) officially opened the Aga Khan Health Centre in Arusha in 2013. This Centre was established in 2012 as a first step to AKU’s major presence in Arusha. AKU is also cooperating with Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology to develop the Arusha region as a higher education hub for East Africa. More information at AKU Hospital, Nairobi

From its base in Mumbai, the Community Health Division operates 6 Regional Health Boards and 32 Local Health Boards that are responsible for the implementation of programs. There are a total of 281 health committees involved in health promotion and prevention which field staff visit regularly. There are 6 health centres, and two diagnostic centres. These facilities are located mainly in Gujarat.

Prince Aly Khan Hospital Mumbai
Mawlana Hazar Imam performing the brick-laying ceremony for the nursing home of Prince Aly Khan Hospital, then known as Ismailia General Hospital, Bombay. (Mumbai, 1967) STUDIO LA BELLA/The Ismaili

Originally known as the Ismailia General Hospital, the Prince Aly Khan Hospital began as a small, 16-bed facility in a rented flat at Dongri, Bombay on June 30, 1945. Late Prince Aly Khan had donated land for the construction of the current hospital named after him, performing the foundation ceremony on January 17, 1955. The Hospital was opened in 1958. It is now a 137-bed acute care multi-specialty facility. In 2001, the Hospital was awarded the ISO 9002.

The Ag Khan Maternal and Child Care Centre, established in 1989, is an 87-bed maternity facility specializing in obstetrics, gynaecology, and pediatrics.

The Aga Khan Hospital for Women and Children, Kharadar was established as a maternity home on April 15, 1924 with the support of His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III and the philanthropic efforts of Vazir Bundeh Ali Kassim. The Maternity Home was originally named the Janbai Maternity Home after the mother of the founder, Mrs. Jan Bai Kassim. The institution was renamed Aga Khan Hospital for Women and Children, Kharadar.

The Aga Khan Hospital, Garden
Established in 1979, the Aga Khan Hospital for Women, Garden (formerly known as the Aga Khan Maternity Home, Garden) is a 41-bed maternity facility offering quality health care. In 1996, the Hospital was recognised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a ‘Baby Friendly’ Hospital and re-certified in 2001. In 2004, the Hospital was awarded the ISO 9001: 2000

Aga Khan University
AKU (Image: Gary Otte/Archnet)

Aga Khan University Hospital
Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi was established in 1985 as the primary teaching site of the Aga Khan University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. A broad range of secondary and tertiary care is available in the 500-bed University Hospital to all patients in need. In 2000, AKUH became the first teaching hospital in Pakistan to be completely ISO 9002 certified. It has since received IS0 9001 certification.

The Aga Khan Hospital for Women, Karimabad (formerly known as Aga Khan Maternity Home) was established in 1979, the Hospital is a 41-bed maternity facility.

Northern Pakistan and Chitral
Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan (AKHS,P) operates 47 health centres in Karachi, 27 in other parts of Sindh, 14 in Punjab and Frontier, 33 in Northern Areas and 31 in Chitral. AKHS,P has been implementing the Northern Pakistan Primary Health Care Programme since 1987. Working in partnership with local communities, the government, and other AKDN institutions, like the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, the goal has been to find sustainable ways of financing and delivering primary health care in the high-mountain valleys.

At independence in 1991, Tajikistan inherited a Soviet health system that had been chronically neglected in the decade immediately prior. AKHS has implemented, with support from AKF and international donor agencies, the active participation of the communities and in partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) of Gorno-Badakshan, a wide range of interventions in health promotion, facility rehabilitation and equipping, pharmaceutical procurement, distribution and sales, and training in new clinical and managerial practices. AKHS is now expanding its community health programme into another geographical area of the country, Katlon.

His Highness, with Mme Bernadette Chirac, Alain Deloche, the founder of La Chaîne de l’Espoir (left), and Phillipe Douste-Blazy, the French Foreign Minister (right) at the inauguration ceremony for the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul. - Photo: AKDN/Gary Otte
Mawlana Hazar Imam with Mme Bernadette Chirac, Alain Deloche, the founder of La Chaîne de l’Espoir (left), and Phillipe Douste-Blazy, the French Foreign Minister (right) at the inauguration ceremony for the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul. (Image: AKDN/Gary Otte)

After more than 20 years of war, the health infrastructure by the time of AKDN’s entry in 2002 was negligible. AKHS operates a range of non-profit health initiatives, including 119 Health Posts, each with two Community Health Workers, and 5 Comprehensive Health Centres are now operational in the provinces of Badakshan, Baghlan, and Bamyan as well as the provincial hospital in Bamyan. The Foundation Laying Ceremony of the Bamyan Provincial Hospital was held on April 18, 2013

The French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC), an international-class, paediatric hospital founded by the French charitable organisations La Chaîne de l’Espoir and Enfants Afghans. The FMIC, formerly known as the Mother and Child Hospital, was built by La Chaîne de l’Espoir, on land donated by the Government of Afghanistan. The hospital was financed by French private sector and individual donors. At the request of the partners, the facility will be managed by AKDN.

The first tele-medicine project in Afghanistan was launched in 2007 linking FMIC in Kabul to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.*

e-Health Centre Aga Khan Health ServicesAKDN eHealth Resource Centre
The AKDN eHRC was established in 2011 to support the eHealth needs of the AKDN health agencies and their partner health institutions. AKDN eHRC employs information and communication technologies to support the assessment, development and implementation of eHealth initiatives and activities of its clients primarily in South/Central Asia and East Africa.

With community health programmes in large geographical areas in Central and South Asia as well as East Africa, and over 200 health facilities including nine hospitals, the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) is one of the most comprehensive private not-for-profit health care systems in the developing world. Building on the Ismaili Community’s health care efforts in the first half of the 20th century, AKHS also provides technical assistance to the government in health service delivery in Kenya, Syria and Tajikistan.”**

* IRIN humanitarian news and analysis
** Aga Khan Health Services
Aga Khan Hospitals

Compiled by Nimira Dewji


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