A developing country's university oriented toward strengthening health systems: challenges and results

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objectives: The Aga Khan University in Karachi has a mission to educate leaders and to contribute to the development of health systems for Pakistan amid challenges of scarcity and complexity.Methods: Its key activities are (1) to design and test urban and rural health system prototypes, (2) to develop faculty in medical and nursing postgraduate community health sciences programs, and (3) to design and implement community-based undergraduate medical and nursing curricula.Results: The university has developed equity-based, cost-effective primary health care prototypes in Karachi slums. With government counterparts it has tested village-, facility-, and district-level interventions in a poor rural district. Federal policymakers have taken models from each for widespread replication. The university is training 49 medical and 19 nursing faculty for postgraduate programs in community health sciences. Most faculty retain institutional leadership positions, including teaching community-based, problem-solving, community health sciences as 20% of the medical and nursing undergraduate curriculum.CONCLUSIONS: The mission and experience of the Aga Khan University in population-based health systems design and health sciences education can guide universities in both developing and developed countries.

Publication (Name of Journal)

American Journal of Public Health