ISLAMABAD: The Health Services Academy (HSA), a public sector university in Pakistan, will help enhance the capacity of 12 Muslim countries of Africa in the public health sector under an agreement signed by the academy with the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) here on Tuesday.

The agreement was signed by HSA’s vice chancellor Dr Shahzad Ali Khan and IUIU’s rector Prof Dr Ismail Simbwa Gyagenda.

The IUIU was established by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to deal with 12 African countries.

Under the agreement, the Resource Linkage Programme of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the OIC would provide financial support to the HSA which would utilise its own technical resources to achieve the objective.

The HSA will also support the 12 African countries’ health institutions to hold clinical trials for developing new drugs as the academy has already held clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines in Pakistan.

Talking to Dawn, the HSA vice chancellor said that after the HSA had become a member of the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation, one of the four standing committees of the OIC dedicated to promotion of science and technology among member states, it was envisioned through an agreement in September that the academy would play a leading role in promoting public health in the 12 African countries.

“Rector of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) Prof Dr Ismail Simbwa Gyagenda arrived in Pakistan to attend the OIC meeting held recently and then stayed back to discuss health development in 12 African countries with officials of HSA,” he said.

Dr Khan said that it had been decided last year that top Muslim countries in terms of health facilities such as Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia would cooperate with Pakistan to boost the latter’s health infrastructure.

“Pakistan, on the other hand, was assigned the task by the OIC to enhance the capacity of other Muslim countries in the public health sector and for this purpose the HSA was given the task by the government to use both its physical and online mediums to train and boost up the health sector of 12 African countries,” he said.

He said the IUIU also requested the HSA to support it to hold clinical trials of different medicines on the African people.

Dr Khan said that collaborative work would be undertaken in research and educational activities, joint medical camps, scholarships and research fellowships, exchange of students, faculty and staff, exchange of information, capacity building activities and other areas.

He said that African countries’ herbal medicines were very popular across the world and Pakistan could also benefit from such medicines as a number of people in the country did not want to take allopathic medicines.

In a statement issued here, the HSA said: “It’s a matter of great pride for Pakistani nation that a public organisation of the government of Pakistan is going to support various African countries through its technical competence and vast experience in the public health. The translation of this multinational technical support shall be brought to reality through an agreement inked between IUIU based in Kampala, Uganda, and the HSA.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Prof Gyagenda expressed his gratitude and lauded HSA’s work during Covid-19 in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2022

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