Barakah is pleased to present thematic excerpts from the speech that Princess Zahra Aga Khan, oldest child of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, delivered in Zanzibar on April 25, 2023 when she and Zanzibar’s First Lady, Her Excellency Maryam Mwinyi, inaugurated the Aga Khan Polyclinic.
The Aga Khan Polyclinic project in Zanzibar and expansion of Aga Khan Health Services
This project is quite wonderful. It’s wonderful to see a building with the history of this building have a new life, going back to its original purpose…. this is a milestone in the journey of the Aga Khan Development Network and our Health Services in Tanzania and Zanzibar. We are opening the doors of our first polyclinic in Zanzibar, expanding the Aga Khan Health Services network to the island. Hopefully this facility will provide integrated health to the population, along with our wider system on the mainland.
This Polyclinic will serve as a comprehensive outreach healthcare centre in Stone Town, Zanzibar, staffed by highly trained Family Medicine Specialists. It will provide emergency and urgent care, enhanced diagnostics, dialysis services, and dentistry. It will also provide integrated care through digital health connections with the new hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, as well as in-person consultations by specialists from the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam in cardiology, oncology, neurology and nephrology and other visiting consultants from the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar.
The unique history of the building and returning it to its original purpose
This building has a unique history and it’s going to play an important part for us because as you know this building was first opened in the 1880s to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. Around the same time, my great grandfather opened a girls’ school in Zanzibar in 1905. I believe that was the first Aga Khan girls’ school. So the history of this building and of improving health and education in Zanzibar dates back a very long time, and it’s wonderful to see this building return to its original purpose as a dispensary.
Between 1994 and 1996, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture restored the building and then in 2021, the board of the Aga Khan Development Network decided to, in conjunction with the Government of Zanzibar, turn this into an Outreach Health Centre. This was made possible by the Aga Khan Health Services, the Aga Khan Foundation, and also the Agence Française de Développement, and we are very grateful to all our partners.
A fantastic book on the building authored by Farouk Topan and John Tomaro
Doctors Farouk Topan and John Tomaro, who are with us, have authored a fantastic book on this building and the history of healthcare in Zanzibar from the 19th century onwards [Please download book PDF: From the Old Dispensary to the new Aga Khan Health Centre: Healthcare in transition in Zanzibar.]
A proud moment as the iconic Old Dispensary opens as a polyclinic
To stand where we are today, and to see the Old Dispensary re-opened as a polyclinic makes me immensely proud. This isn’t just about using and improving an iconic building, but it’s about bringing 21st century cutting-edge health services to this health dispensary building and reflecting the evolution of the Aga Khan Health Services and healthcare in Tanzania.
Aga Khan Polyclinic: Supporting Zanzibar’s 2050 Development Vision
It symbolises our commitment to supporting the Government’s vision for a better tomorrow. By providing affordable, equitable health care services, disease prevention and health promotion, the Polyclinic supports the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050, which aims to provide a sustainable universal healthcare system staffed by skilled healthcare professionals and supported by modern medical technologies and facilities.
The building whose roots can’t be forgotten
With this building I think one can say that we can’t forget our roots and our history, and how much this amazing building means to the people of Stone Town and Zanzibar, and it’s wonderful to see.
Date posted: April 27, 2023.
The original speech made by Princess Zahra on April 25, 2023 may be read by clicking The Ismaili: Princess Zahra’s complete speech.
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