“I am optimistic that Taliban Leaders could be persuaded to permit vaccinations again” — Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta
“The world must work with Kabul’s new rulers to get polio and other diseases under control….The Taliban now running the country has an opportunity to show a pragmatic, reformist face to the world and people of Afghanistan: it needs to run the health system, to care more about protecting women and children….and for the polio-immunization programme to resume.” — Zulfiqar Bhutta, writing in Nature…. READ MORE
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta of the Aga Khan University and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is the Founding Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, which includes a teaching hospital in Kabul. He was recently honoured the 2021 Roux Prize for his tremendous impact on maternal and child health, as a researcher and a leader as well as his commitment to reducing health inequities. READ PROFESSOR BHUTTA’S SEPTEMBER 23 PIECE IN NATURE.
NATURE is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions.
Date posted: September 28, 2021.
We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.
The following report is reproduced from the website of the President of Kenya. Thematic excerpts of the virtual speech made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, can be read at Simerg’s sister website Barakah, which is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat(please read Mawlana Hazar Imam Thematic Excerpts).
June 11, 2021: President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked universities to invest in research and training that support Kenya’s new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).
“The Competence-Based Curriculum is a revolutionary step we took as a country to provide our learners with twenty-first-century practical skills relevant to the needs of the present world,” the President said.
President Kenyatta, who spoke on Friday in Nairobi when he awarded a charter to the Aga Khan University-Kenya (AKU), also urged universities to concentrate on producing graduates who can tackle global challenges and make the world a better place.
The Head of State reminded Kenyan universities to ensure that they offer quality education.
“You must strive to remain compliant to both the programmatic and institutional standards set by our professional regulatory bodies such as the Commission for University Education,” President Kenyatta said.
At the same time, the President directed regulatory institutions in the education sector to execute their mandate fully in order to ensure the quality of university education is not compromised.
“Regulatory standards are not mere exercises in box-ticking. They are the lifeblood of a vital process that ensures that learning delivers tangible results for both the learner as well as the nation,” the President emphasized.
On research, the President challenged universities to be at the forefront in providing solutions to emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the event, President Kenyatta also inaugurated the Aga Khan University’s new Kshs 5 billion ultra-modern building. The building will be the university’s main campus in Kenya, housing its graduate school of Media and Communications, Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Institute for Human Development as well as the Brain and Mind Institute among other programmes.
His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, addressed the occasion via video link, saying the awarding of charter to AKU is a vote of confidence in the university.
He thanked President Kenyatta’s leadership for creating an enabling environment that has allowed private universities in Kenya to flourish.
Education CS Prof George Magoha, Commission for University Education (CUE) Chairman Prof Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, CUE Secretary Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi as well as the Aga Khan University’s Vice Chancellor Dr Firoz Rasul spoke during the occasion.
With the award of the charter, the Aga Khan University becomes Kenya’s 21st private chartered university.
Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.
Simerg’s sister website Barakah is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat. Barakah has broken down Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Aga Khan University Convocation address which was delivered virtually on May 22, 2021 to a world wide audience into 7 themes. The Barakah post includes pertinent photos and carries appropriate subtitles to make it highly readable. To read the excerpts please click on Address by His Highness the Aga Khan or the photo below.
(NOTE: For a more detailed report, with photos, of this morning’s Global Convocation event, please click Barakah, a website dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat – Ed.)
For the first time ever, the Aga Khan University this morning, Saturday May 22, 2021 brought together all the graduating classes in Kenya, Pakistan, Uganda, Tanzania and the United Kingdom in a single Global Convocation that is being held throughout the day. The Global Convocation began at approximately 8:45AM (Toronto time), and included speeches by the outgoing president of the Aga Khan University, Firoz Rasul, Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.
The approximately 70 minute program was transmitted via The Ismaili TV and The AKU Website. Present in the room where Mawlana Hazar Imam was speaking from were members of his family — Prince Amyn Muhammad, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Prince Ali Muhammad.
A comprehensive report of the global convocation with excerpts from the speeches that were made will be presented on Simerg and Barakah when the transcripts become available. In the meantime, we have a report with a few photos in Barakah, a website that is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family as well as the Ismaili Imamat. Please click HERE
Date posted: May 21, 2021. Last updated: May 22, 2021.
Featured photo at top of this post: Mawlana Hazar Imam delivering his remarks on May 22, 2021 at the Aga Khan University’s Global Convocation. Photo: Clip from Ismaili TV.
Many of our readers who have visited the website of the Aga Khan University (AKU) over the past 2 weeks, may have read about (1) the crucial support AKU needs at this time during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) Dr. Faisal Mahmoud at the AKU who treated Pakistan’s first COVID-19 patient; and (3) the AKU’s launching of a mobile app that helps to self-screen for Covid-19. You can follow these and other informative stories of how the AKU is dealing with the COVID-19 crisis by clicking HERE. I have been wondering whether the AKU, like other institutions around the world including several in Canada, is racing to find a vaccine for COVID-19. It’s very possible that there is already an initiative underway, but I have yet to read about it.
I would like to start by briefly mentioning the incredible steps that our beloved 48th Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, took in response to the bubonic plague that affected India in 1897. (See full article HERE or an abbreviated version HERE)
The twenty-year-old Imam aided Professor Haffkinez’s research for the development of a vaccine by putting freely at the scientist’s disposal one of his “biggest houses, a vast, rambling palace in Bombay.” The scientist remained there for about two years until the Government of India, convinced of the success of his methods, took over the whole research project and put it on a proper, adequate and official footing.
Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah writes in his Memoirs that “the impact of the plague among my own people was alarming. It was in my power to set an example. I had myself publicly inoculated, and I took care to see that the news of what I had done was spread as far as possible and as quickly as possible….The immunity, of which my continued health and my activities were obvious evidence, impressed itself on their consciousness and conquered their fear.”
At that time, the Imam did not have Jamati institutions at his disposal to support such an initiative. At the turn of the 19th century, the Ismaili Jamat was economically weak, and educationally even worse off. Very few members of the Jamat could boast a knowledge of the three R’s.
Then, over a period of some 50 years, the 48th Imam transformed the community from rags to riches, an act that is probably unparalleled in history. The Imam was the architect of the modern miracle that we continue to witness today under the benevolent guidance of Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan.
Today, the Jamat is eminently placed on the world stage with its fantastic infrastructure. It has become socially well-organised, professionally competitive, and commercially adventurous. More importantly, the Jamat’s youth is conscious of its strength and ready for any new challenge. We have become a dynamic, intrepid community capable of bearing further loads under the guidance of Mawlana Hazar Imam. He has created exceptional institutions for the well being and progress of the Jamat and humanity at large.
During his Imamat, the establishment of the Aga Khan University in Karachi is probably one of the most significant and monumental projects undertaken in Ismaili history. Its creation and development has led to satellite hospitals and universities in East Africa, and a major mountain university in Central Asia. Over the last 4 decades, the AKU has achieved an international presence and recognition in the world of learning with major educational institutions as its partners — a vision that was first enshrined in the logo of the university.
According to the AKU website, the University’s research endeavours extend across diverse subjects: health sciences, education, culture and society. “At the core of our mission,” the website states, “is the desire to spearhead change for generations to come.” It further adds that the AKU faculty, scientists, educationists and students are engaged in impacting people, communities and societies for a better tomorrow. It gives an example of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research which houses international researchers conducting state of the art research and teaching in basic and translational stem cell science.
Today, we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic. We have already witnessed its social, cultural, and economical impact on billions of people around the world. We don’t want it to remain with us and plague us for years to come, and a vaccine that will address the virus is the only solution we have for our future well-being. In the USA, the cost of a complete COVID-19 treatment for people who are hospitalized is around US $39,000.
The development of a vaccine may require millions of dollars, and efforts at developing one may not guarantee that it will be one that is selected for massive immunization. Today, researchers at the AKU, as well as others around the world, have access to the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Additionally, lab-grown copies of the virus are available to researchers thanks to the efforts made to isolate and culture the virus from two patients by the University of Toronto and McMaster University.
If they have not already done so, it is important that the AKU join the collaborative efforts that are being spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), where scientists, physicians, funders and manufacturers from around the world are coming together to help expedite the formulation of a vaccine against COVID-19. In its declaration of April 13, to which several renowned institutions are signatories, the WHO states that “we believe these efforts will help reduce inefficiencies and duplication of effort, and we will work tenaciously to increase the likelihood that one or more safe and effective vaccines will soon be made available to all”.
While a vaccine will take time to develop, it will likely be instrumental in controlling this worldwide pandemic. We hope that the Aga Khan University will dedicate some of its research facility and scientists to the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. The AKU’s contribution may literally change the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world, just as Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah’s foresight was responsible for saving countless lives.
Date posted: April 14, 2020.
Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.
Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who served Jamati institutions for several decades.
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The COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on individuals and families in our communities and around the world.
AKU [Aga Khan University] is on the front lines of the response to this unprecedented health challenge. Our dedicated physicians, nurses and other medical staff are working tirelessly to save lives.
You can support our efforts to secure specialised medical equipment, provide testing and life-saving care to the vulnerable through our Patient Welfare Programme, and address the needs of our physicians and healthcare personnel during this extraordinary time [Note: readers outside Pakistan have encountered problems in completing the form – please select the COVID-19 Fund over the Zakat Donation COVID-19 Fund option, and see if that works for you – Ed.].
The COVID-19 Fund would support the following:
1. Providing world-class medical care, including for disadvantaged patients through our Patient Welfare Programme;
2. Securing specialised equipment including ventilators and personal protective gear for our staff;
3. Changes to our hospital and University facilities to expand our capacity to respond effectively to this emergency;
4. Research by our infectious disease specialists, and others, that contributes to the global effort to deliver better diagnostics for COVID-19 and care for those infected;
5. Support for our staff who are working exceedingly long hours, and need accommodation and other essential support.
If you would like to make a donation, additional information may be found HERE.
Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. In the past few days, we have published some excellent pieces on Navroz.