Aga Khan University & UCSF form partnership to help underprivileged

By Kristen Bole

Haile T. Debas, MD

UCSF and the Aga Khan University signed a memorandum of understanding today to advance their common goal to promote equitable human advancement and social justice in the less privileged parts of the world.

The agreement was signed at the Capitol Building in Sacramento by Haile T. Debas, MD, executive director of Global Health Sciences at UCSF, and AKU President Firoz Rasul, in the presence of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chancellor of AKU.

“This partnership strengthens UCSF’s mission to advance health worldwide by promoting the development of human resources for health,” said Debas at the signing ceremony. “AKU’s highly regarded, community-based nursing and medical education in Africa and Asia will enable UCSF to extend its commitment to working collaboratively to improve health and reduce disease around the world.”

The agreement will initially focus on the creation of integrated primary health care models across East Africa and Asia with an emphasis on the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality and morbidity. It also will include developing needed human resources for health through formal education programs and building the capacity of the community and health care providers to develop responsive health systems.

“Through the creation of integrated health care systems, we will be able to build midwifery/family medicine training programs that serve the needs of the community and open new opportunities in multidisciplinary research and policy advocacy,” said Dr. Elnasir Lalani, AKU dean of research and graduate studies.

The agreement builds on previous linkages between the two institutions in family medicine and midwifery. It could potentially grow to include other areas of the health sciences.

“With this partnership, the University of California, San Francisco’s internationally recognized expertise will be able to impact parts of the world that would not otherwise benefit from these capabilities,” said Rasul. “Partnerships, such as this one, build capacity in the developing world where it is needed most, but more important, they enable innovation and the creation of knowledge across our globalizing world.”

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. For further information, visit

Aga Khan University is a private, autonomous university that promotes human welfare through research, teaching and community service. Based on the principles of quality, access, impact and relevance, the University has campuses and programs in Afghanistan, East Africa, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and the United Kingdom. Its facilities include teaching hospitals, nursing schools and a medical college, institutes for educational development, and an Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations. For more information visit