Janet set to launch Aga Khan University construction today

Aga Khan University President, Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, speaks to Monitor at the Aga Khan University Hospital construction site in Nakawa, Kampala on April 26, 2023. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

What you need to know:

  • The first phase planned to be completed by 2026 will cost $100m (Shs370b).

Ugandans who have been seeking world-class healthcare at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, can breathe a sigh of relief following commencement of construction of similar facility in Kampala.

First Lady Janet Museveni and Princess Zahra Aga Khan will launch the construction of the state-of-the-art facility in Nakawa, an east outskirt of the Ugandan capital, today.

The developments will comprise an Aga Khan University campus, a teaching hospital and students’ residences.

Once completed, the institution will provide modern facilities for top-end training of health and other professionals and super specialised curative care, with direct dividends for local communities, Uganda and the broader East Africa region.

The training fields for high-quality doctors and resulting patients’ services will include internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. The university will also train nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

“I am thrilled to announce that after years of planning and preparation, we have broken ground on the new Aga Khan University campus in Kampala, Uganda,” Aga Khan University President, Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, said yesterday in a communication to staff, students and alumni of the Aga Khan University.

He added: “This exciting project will not only expand our reach and impact as a university, but also provide greater access to education and healthcare for the people of Uganda and more broadly, East Africa.” 

First Lady Janet Museveni, who doubles as Uganda’s Education minister, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan, a trustee of the Aga Khan University, will officiate at the commissioning of the construction works certain to significantly change the city’s eastern skyline and modernise the land use.

It is expected that once in place, the range and quality of services offered will enable Uganda government treat its officials at home, saving the country billions currently spent on medical tourism abroad.

Dr Shahabuddin told this publication and its sister station, NTV-Uganda, in Kampala yesterday that the facility will be built in phases, starting with the university hospital, teaching spaces and students’ residences.

The first phase planned to be completed by 2026 will cost $100m (Shs370b), he said, and the institution’s graduates will “use acquired skills and knowledge to improve health care in Uganda and beyond”. In addition, a postgraduate Medical Education Programme will train specialist doctors in different fields including, internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, to beef up the existing team of professionals in Uganda for better service delivery.

Dr Shahabuddin said the Aga Khan University in Kampala, like the one in Kenya, will not only focus on sciences, but teach humanities including media and communications studies.
“We also have a School of Education Development based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and every year, 20 Ugandans go to Dar es Salaam to pursue Master’s degrees in Education. We want to be true East Africans. We have integrated our activities in the health and education agenda of East Africa,” he noted.

He commended President Museveni and His Highness the Aga Khan for providing a visionary leadership in giving the project a greenlight in Kampala and making it part of the fabric of the country’s social development sector.

Speaking at the land grant and initiation ceremony that was held at Kampala Serena Hotel at the initial stage of the project, the then Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said such an investment will address specialised healthcare needs for the country.

“Patients will be attended to from within Uganda, with no need to spend time and money going for treatment abroad,” he said then.

In his comments yesterday, Dr Shahabuddin said education at the Aga Khan University in Kampala will be affordable and support structures for financially-struggling student have been considered.

“I’m very happy to say that with guidance from His Highness the Aga Khan, that money should not be a hindrance to anyone wishing to receive world-class education. There are mechanisms and structures for supporting those who are not able to pay all the tuition,” he said.

Dr Shahabuddin revealed that last year alone, they spent $26m (Shs97b) to provide direct education subsidies.

The Academic Coordinator at Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery Kampala, Ms Caroline Namukwaya, said the new campus would provide an opportunity to health professionals to upgrade to the required advanced standards.

Ms Namukwaya said the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery had, since 2001, nurtured and trained several professionals suitably qualified to compete for domestic and international jobs.

The university annually admits 150 students on Nursing and Midwifery programme, and Ms Namukwaya implored the best professionals to serve local communities instead of relocating to work overseas.

Ms Mary Najjuma, Ms Teopista Nakafu and Ms Doreen Twinomugisha – all alumni of the Aga Khan University – praised the institution for its hands-on teaching format that enables transfer of practical skills.