“This is an important day for me,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam, “because it represents an opportunity to contribute to Uganda’s development, to my community’s integration within the institutions of Uganda and in East Africa more widely.”
Together with the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, Mawlana Hazar Imam took part in a ceremonial brick-laying at the site where the new hospital will be built. Afterwards, Hazar Imam proceeded to the Serena International Conference Centre, where he and the Right Honourable Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda unveiled a plaque to formalise the initiation of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Kampala.
President Museveni saluted Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Ismaili Muslim community in Uganda and throughout East Africa for their contributions.
“I am very happy to welcome you here and we will give you all the support,” said the President. “I’m glad you came personally to launch this project and I wish this project well.”
The University Hospital will make an international standard of health care accessible to all Ugandans, matching advanced medical facilities and services with higher education to develop the professional human resources the country requires.
This is in keeping with the mission of the Aga Khan University, said Mawlana Hazar Imam, which for more than three decades has been to provide the people of the developing world with access to world-class health care.
“The populations of these countries cannot be isolated from the best simply because they have been born in countries outside the Western world,” he asserted.
Building on the University’s current programmes and services in East Africa, the Kampala teaching hospital will educate specialist physicians through AKU’s post-graduate medical education programme, expand the university’s nursing and midwifery programmes in Uganda and provide training for allied health professionals in a variety of fields.
The tertiary hospital promises advanced care with the capability to diagnose and treat the most complicated cases. It will include specialties in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, cancer, women and child health, stem cell and regenerative medicine, neurology and minimally invasive surgery, and have the latest in state-of-the-art medical equipment such as MRI and CT scanners and nuclear medicine.
“I would like to salute the Aga Khan, because in every area that His Highness works, whether it is building the Bujagali dam, or the Serena Hotel, we always see a mark of excellence,” said Prime Minister Rugunda. “I am confident that the Aga Khan University Hospital will be at the same level of excellence, if not even higher.”
Research will be key to achieving that mark of excellence, noted Mawlana Hazar Imam, and he intends for the University to invest heavily in research while focusing on higher post-graduate studies. “It is this research,” he said, “which will enable the Aga Khan University and others in the area to bring new knowledge, appropriate knowledge to Africa, Asia, which we desperately need.”
But meeting these aspirations will be challenging, particularly when successful doctors and nurses often choose to leave the country and pursue their careers elsewhere. In building the Aga Khan University Hospital in Uganda, Hazar Imam hopes that “the wonderful doctors and nurses who are Ugandans, who are working outside Uganda, will come back and work here in an institution which not only will welcome them, but give them the best professional conditions in which they can work.”
“And I would like to emphasise to you how important it is that you should bring to bear on young men and young women a commitment to serve at home, and not to leave home in a position where the homeland does not have the benefit of the knowledge which has been imparted.”
Aga Khan University President Firoz Rasul thanked President Museveni and the Government of Uganda for their support and encouragement, and for granting the land upon which the University Hospital will be built. He also expressed profound gratitude to Mawlana Hazar Imam for his ongoing commitment.
“Without His Highness’s commitment we would not be here to build a new University Hospital in Kampala,” said President Rasul.
After the ceremony, Mawlana Hazar Imam took a moment to express his gratitude to volunteers and staff involved with the endeavour, before heading to the airport.