More than 180 students earned degrees in nursing and medicine Wednesday, when the Aga Khan University (AKU) held its fifth graduation ceremony in Nairobi.
University president Firoz Rasul, urged the group to give back to their home communities.
“Make an impact wherever you go, an impact that is reflective of the personal development, good friends and intellectual growth you gained at AKU.”
The chief guest, Mr Joseph Massaquoi of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), delivered a similar message. He asked the new graduates to remain in East Africa, calling the movement of health workers to developed countries a disappointing trend.
85 registered nurses received Bachelor of Science degrees, while 94 received special diplomas in either community health or emergency care.
They were all trained as part of AKU’s Advanced Nursing Studies Programme, which aims to improve the overall quality of nursing in East Africa.
The programme, which has additional teaching facilities in Dar-es-Salaam and Kampala, allows working nurses to study part-time.
After training for at least two years, they are tested by external examiners from countries like the Philippines, South Africa and Pakistan to ensure they meet international standards.
Members of this year’s graduating class work at large public and private hospitals in Nairobi, as well as a various district hospitals and charity health centres outside the capital city.
On Wednesday, six doctors also received postgraduate degrees in medicine, after spending four years specialising in general surgery, radiology or internal medicine.
The event came at a time when the institution seeks to play a larger role in region’s health sector, with plans to build new facilities in Tanzania and Nairobi.
“Over the next 10 years, AKU will be investing significantly to meet the region’s needs for tertiary education,” Mr Firoz Rasul said.
Specifically, the university will establish a new Faculty of Health Sciences in Nairobi, where teaching is scheduled to begin in 2010. It will also build new facilities in Tanzania.
German ambassador Walter Lindner and Russian envoy Valery Yegoshkin were among the invited dignitaries.