“Opportunities are time sensitive, so you can’t let them pass you by,” says Dr. Nasiruddin Jamal about his decision to take a professional leave from his 40-year medical career in New York to contribute his TKN volunteer service as Regional Director responsible for overseeing the cardiology departments at two Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS-EA) hospitals in East Africa since 2014.
Since then, his primary objective has been to launch a cath lab with state-of-the-art equipment that can support the early detection and treatment of cardiac abnormalities in at risk patients at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Dr. Jamal was involved in every step of the startup process, from the initial design to the training of lab technicians. Upon completion, this cath lab is now the only one of its kind in the country that deals with cases of acute heart attacks.
Dr. Jamal is now leading the development of a similar lab and services at the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa, the first of its kind in coastal Kenya. But in addition to the establishment of these labs, he has assisted in the advancement of the entire range of cardiology services offered by the Dar-es-salaam and Mombasa hospitals, including: updating non-invasive procedures, outpatient consultations and teaching of residency students and other doctors. He has overseen almost 600 cases in the region and is also a visiting Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Aga Khan University.
Dr. Jamal is passionate about providing public education on heart disease and non-communicable diseases. “The prevalence of hypertension and risks for heart disease are running high in East Africa. Projections from the Global Burden of Disease Project suggested that from 1990 to 2020, the burden of cardiovascular disease faced by African countries will double. So we are aiming to be proactive by speaking to the community, publishing newspaper articles, and using social media, among other avenues, to clarify misconceptions and raise public awareness about cardiovascular health,” he states.
The Aga Khan Hospital, Dar-es-Salaam, recently celebrated the launch of its expansion ceremony in the presence of Princess Zahra Aga Khan, announcing the growth of the facility from a 74 to 170 bed tertiary care service.
“My goal is for us to be able to build local capacity in the Cardiology Department by mid-next year, after which I can continue to support the hospitals and labs intermittently. I feel fortunate to have had the good fortune to participate in a small way to help achieve this ambitious vision of Mawlana Hazar Imam. I would very much encourage others to share their time and knowledge. Whatever contribution we can make is helping move the needle forward. It has been a true blessing,” says Dr. Jamal about this wonderful opportunity to serve as a TKN volunteer.
Sulaiman Shahabuddin, CEO, AKHS-EA, praises Dr. Jamal's outstanding TKN contribution: “Dr. Jamal has already completed 3 years of excellent and remarkable service at the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam. His leadership, dedication and superb clinical expertise have enabled us to develop a cardiology program of the highest quality and repute for which we will always remain so very grateful.
While he is currently based in Mombasa to lead their new cardiology program, he will continue to oversee the Dar es Salaam program and is now the AKHS cardiology lead for East Africa.”