A.30 -

A.K. Global Social Services


Byline: By Harry Nelson, Los Angeles Times News Service

DD 04/30/89

SO The Record, Northern New Jersey (REC)

Edition: All Editions.=.Sunday

Section: NEWS

Page: a25


LP One of the world's richest men is creating what may be the most ambitious private program anywhere to correct the crippling inequities that deprive people in developing countries of housing, education, health care, and social advancement. He is a 52-year-old, Harvard-educated British citizen residing in * France _ Prince Karim Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismaili sect of Shia Moslems, who number 15 million.

TX * For 30 years the Aga Khan (the title means "great leader") has carefully expanded the programs of social and economic development begun early in this century by his grandfather, whom he succeeded as spiritual leader of the Ismailis in 1957. The list of social and economic development programs now include 300 educational institutions, 200 health-care centers, diagnostic clinics, dispensaries, five general hospitals, and scores of business enterprises self-initiated by poor people in such countries as Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, India, and Bangladesh. All are are funded primarily by Ismaili religious tithings and are available to everyone. * Last month the Aga Khan came to Karachi, Pakistan's largest and most slum-ridden city, to attend ceremonies at what is planned to * become the centerpiece of the Aga Khan Health Services, stretching from Africa well into the Asian heartland. The event was the graduation of the first class of 42 physicians * from the Aga Khan University Medical College, a $300 million institution with an ultramodern 721-bed hospital that is by far the best in the nation. Pakistan does not need more doctors so much as a different kind of doctor. The country paradoxically has more physicians than it can now employ _ not because the need is lacking but because of economics and the failure of existing government schools to prepare physicians and organize a delivery system that meets public health needs. Pakistan spends less than 1 percent of its gross national product on health. The government system has no slots for public health nurses. Rural health centers are either underutilized or overwhelmed with patients but seldom have active programs to teach preventive health. * The Aga Khan's stated goal is not to replace the government health system but to create programs as models that can be duplicated by other developing countries. A key feature _ and one of the tenets of all community development _ is that the incentive to raise living standards must spring from the poor in the slums and rural villages, rather than from outside imposition. A grass-roots origin pervades all of the * Aga Khan programs.

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