Study finds AKU supports 33,000 jobs annually in Sindh

Karachi: The Aga Khan University launched today a landmark study which found that AKU has an annual economic impact in Pakistan of Rs 103 billion, or US$ 1 billion, and supports 42,000 jobs, including 33,000 in Sindh. The study also reports that AKU’s spending has a multiplier effect, with every rupee of its direct gross value added generating Rs 7.3 in economic benefits.

“This report makes clear the remarkable extent of the Aga Khan University’s economic impact,” said Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah. “It also tells the story of an institution whose dedication to world-class quality and innovation is matched by its determination to improve the lives of the poor in Sindh and across Pakistan.”

The study is the work of a team of economists from Centennial Group International, a U.S.-based consulting firm, many of them former senior officials at the World Bank. It is the first-ever study of AKU’s economic impact, and is believed to be the first comprehensive economic impact study of a Pakistani university.

AKU generates its economic impact in various ways: by providing high-quality education, thereby increasing the earning power of its alumni; by offering outstanding health care, thereby keeping people healthy and productive; and as a major purchaser of goods and services, thereby generating revenues for businesses and jobs for people.

In a key finding, the study reports that AKU is improving the quality of health care and education for the public at large as a pioneer and an influential role model that sparks change within other institutions. The authors call the University “a national innovator and a powerhouse for quality,” and “a nationwide role model for high-quality tertiary education and medical care.”

individuals from government, the diplomatic corps, international agencies and civil society joined the University at its Stadium Road campus in Karachi for the release of the report, including the Chief Guest, Sindh Minister of Health Dr Sikandar Mandhro.

“The Aga Khan University and Hospital occupy a special place in Sindh and Pakistan. AKU brings a culture of high quality. It is a cradle of innovation which strengthens our capacity to achieve our goals as individuals and as a society. We look forward to continuing to partner with AKU to improve the quality of life. We congratulate AKU on the difference it has made, and is making, and will surely continue to make,” minister Mandhro said.

“AKU’s impact is felt across Sindh, from Karachi’s katchi abadis to rural villages,” said AKU President and CEO Firoz Rasul. “In Sindh, we have two campuses, as well as five hospitals and 128 outreach medical centres that treat 1.3 million people annually. We conduct health research that focuses on diseases of poverty at a dozen sites across the province. Plus, more than 100 middle and secondary schools in Sindh are affiliated with the AKU Examination Board.”

AKU’s recent activities in Sindh include training teachers from 1,480 rural government schools; significantly increasing vaccination rates in Tando Mohammad Khan using a mobile-phone app and other strategies; training 90 managers from the Sindh Health Department; and vaccinating 136,000 children in Karachi against polio in partnership with the Ministry of National Health Services and the Trust for Vaccines and Immunizations.

Over five years, the University will be working with government health providers to improve health for 3.6 million women and children in Sindh as part of its Umeed-e-Nau (New Hope) project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project also will be active in Punjab and Balochistan, reaching a total of 11.5 million beneficiaries.

Dr Ishrat Husain served as an adviser to the report’s authors. “The study is an admirably rigorous analysis of the difference that AKU has made in Pakistan,” said Dr Husain, former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, former AKU Trustee and former Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration.

Centennial’s study analysed AKU’s economic impact in 2015, the latest year for which data was available when the authors began their work in 2016.

In addition to analysing AKU’s economic impact, Centennial’s report also highlights the public benefits the University creates for society, stating they are likely the most important contribution of AKU to Pakistan.

Examples of AKU’s public benefits abound. The Aga Khan University Hospital has helped to raise the quality of health care by introducing new treatments, tests and technologies to Pakistan, and by setting higher standards as Pakistan’s first hospital accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission International. The Hospital’s clinical laboratory was also the first in Pakistan accredited by the College of American Pathologists of the U.S.

Seven of Pakistan’s top 10 health researchers are AKU faculty, according to the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, and the University’s health research is helping to save the lives of women and children living in poverty. The University empowers women: it has transformed the nursing profession, creating career opportunities for countless women. AKU also partners with government: at government’s request, it will conduct the 2018 National Nutrition Survey, the largest in Pakistan’s history and a key resource for efforts to combat malnutrition.

AKU strives to make high-quality health care and education accessible to all people, regardless of socioeconomic status. The University accepts students based on merit, not ability to pay, and provides 60 per cent of students with financial assistance or tuition fee remission. In 2017, approximately 700,000 low-income patients were able to access high-quality health care at AKU facilities, thanks to financial support from the University and donors. That is up from 488,000 in 2015.

“AKU has a long history of impact and innovation,” President Rasul said. “But we are not standing still. In the years to come, I am sure our contribution to the economy and to quality of life in Sindh, and Pakistan as a whole, will only increase.”