Editor’s note: Mawlana Hazar Imam has arrived in East Africa to preside over the Aga Khan University Convocation in Dar-es-Salaam (February 24, 2015), Kampala (February 26) and Nairobi (March 2). We are pleased to publish the following excerpts from his speeches on the profession of nursing.
EXCERPTS FROM MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM’S SPEECHES
I. 1981…Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan
Mawlana Hazar Imam with Pakistan President Zia ul-Haqq at the opening of the School of Nursing in Karachi in 1981. Photo: Christopher Little/25 Years in Pictures, Volume 1, 1983, Islamic Publications, UK.
“The School of Nursing’s primary mission is to raise the standards and standing of the profession itself, so that it is accorded the recognition and prestige earned and deserved by the women whose working lives are dedicated to the demanding and honourable task of caring for the sick. We are confident that the nurses in our hospital will be rewarded with respect, appreciation and remuneration that their integrity and loyal commitment justify. The key note to the School’s philosophy is excellence.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, presents diplomas to graduating nurses during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.
“Let me end by addressing directly the first Aga Khan School of Nursing students. Here today, you like me, are at the beginning. You are starting your chosen professional training. The opening of your School is for me the beginning of a new major philanthropic medical complex. My purpose is to make possible the development of your career, but you must achieve. If you fail, I have failed. If you succeed, Pakistan will be rewarded.” 
II. 1996…Baccalaureate Address at Brown University, Providence, USA
May 26, 1996: An audience at Brown Univeristy’s “Green” watches a live telecast from the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church where Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan delivered the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class. Photo: Abdulmalik Merchant/Simerg.
“The Aga Khan University was founded thirteen years ago in Pakistan with planning assistance from Harvard. It was the first private self-governing university in that country of 125 million people. Medical Science was the initial field of engagement. As Pakistan had one of the lowest ratios in the world of nurses to doctors, and the nursing profession was mired in mediocrity, social unacceptability and low pay, nursing became our priority. With the assistance of McMaster University in Ontario, a curriculum was designed and a School of Nursing launched. In addition to becoming a leading academic institution, it has transformed the role of women in society by providing them with new educational and professional opportunities.
“This solution to some of Pakistan’s most pressing health care problems, which has also enhanced the social self-worth and professional status of women in the country, may soon be replicated in other areas. Under the university’s international charter, the nursing school now envisages the creation of an Institute of Advanced Nursing Studies in East Africa to extend the same professional and societal opportunities to the women of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and further afield.” 
III. 2001…Archon Award Ceremony, Copenhagen, Denmark
“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.
“The School of Nursing was the first academic programme offered by the Aga Khan University for a combination of reasons, some universal in nature, and others particular to countries like Pakistan. It is generally accepted that high quality health care, both in institutional as well as community settings, cannot be provided effectively without capable nurses to support physicians and other health professionals. But Pakistan suffers from an acute shortage of nurses. Even now, there are four physicians for every nurse whereas the international norm is at least five nurses to every physician. In addition, because women constitute an overwhelming number of nurses in the developing world, the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University felt that the School of Nursing could foster the enhancement of nurses, and women professionals more generally, empowering them, and increasing their standing and effectiveness in society.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, talking with graduating students at a luncheon held on the Aga Khan University Campus during his 17-day visit to Pakistan in 1991. Photo: Gary Otte/The Ismaili, UK, December 1991.
“Today, the AKU School of Nursing takes pride that:
“More and more women are coming forward to join the profession. By adding programmes that lead to Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nursing for the first time in Pakistan, the School is providing opportunities for career advancement that were out of reach for nearly everyone in the profession in the country.
“The School of Nursing has become an important resource for policy dialogues with the government and the nation’s Nursing Council. It has assisted in the review and reforming of nursing policies, and the curriculum for nursing education for the country as a whole.
“The School of Nursing is also in the vanguard as the Aga Khan University launches its first programmes outside Pakistan, in fulfilment of the provisions of its charter as an international university. The School is developing an initiative in Advanced Nursing Studies regionally in Eastern Africa, responding to the needs for advanced training in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.” 
IV. 2014…House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada
“The nursing school’s impact has been enormous; many of those who now head other nursing programmes and hospitals in the whole of the region — not just Pakistan — are graduates of our school.” 
Date posted: Friday, February 20, 2015.
Last updated: February 21, 2015.
 Speech at the Inauguration of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, Karachi, Pakistan, February 16, 1981.
 Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 1996 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist in America, near the Brown University campus in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
 Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Archon Award Ceremony of Sigma Theta Tau International, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 7, 2001.
 Address of His Highness the Aga Khan to both Houses of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa, February 27, 2014.
For speeches made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, please visit http://www.akdn.org/speeches and http://www.nanowisdoms.org.