The cauldron of social accountability : searching for the right potion

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Health Professions Education (MPHE)


Educational Development


The Vision and Mission of the Aga Khan University has "service of the Muslim Ummah and the developing world' at its heart. From this vision, evolves AKU's strategic planning and working. This concept of service to the community is also seen at the heart of the WHO declaration and the Global Consensus on Social Accountability (GC-SA) defined for all medical education institutions. Consequently, it was a great surprise when AKU-MC did not win the SA Award of the Aspire initiative in 2013. This thesis looked into the possible causes for the loss of this award in order to suggest recommendations that will help the institution in its future journey towards SA. Method: Using a case study approach, seven in-depth interviews with key-informants were conducted within AKU of individuals closely associated with the Aspire submission and held key Leadership positions in the university. In addition, one Dean each from a private and a public medical school were also interviewed. A deductive iterative theming of the data was then conducted. Results: From the data analysis two themes emerged; one that looked into the various causes of deviation from the vision and mission that lead to the loss of the Aspire initiative and the second is a beacon to light the path to attain socially accountability. Theme One was 'Turning Wounds into Wisdom' and identified issues related to the following: inadequate community services and community-based education in the curriculum due to change in leadership and geopolitical causes; to a laid-back attitude for data gathering because of faculty's lack of self-belief, indifference to the award and pressures of the business model of the institution; and to the student's goal to attain international education rather than serve the nation. Theme Two was the Rise of the Phoenix and identified measures that would help to re-establish a socially accountable institution, which include reviewing the curriculum; faculty development for social accountability; instil strengthening the doctor-patient bond and a more humanistic approach even in the business patient-care model; and a more discerning admissions policy. Conclusion: While it is imperative to accept any defeat, more important is to learn from it and carve out a path that will help achieve SA by AKU-MC. By institutionalising Theme Two the Phoenix may rise from the brunt pyre, for AKU-MC to attain SA. These recommendations would enhance SA not AKU-MC, but all medical schools nationally, regionally and internationally.

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