WHO Designates AKU Collaborating Center on Reproductive Health

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has opened a Collaborating Center on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) within the Department of Community Health Sciences (CHS) of the Aga Khan University Medical College .

It is the first center of its kind specific to SRHR in Pakistan and the fourth overall in the country.

The partnership integrates AKU into a network of more than 800 WHO Collaborating Centers in more than 80 Member States working with the global health body in areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases , nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

Dr Sarah Saleem, Professor of Population and Reproductive Health at AKU, will lead the center and provide strategic support in implementing WHO-mandated work and program objectives, and develop and strengthen institutional capacity in the 22 countries and territories within the EMRO (Eastern Mediterranean) Region.

She is also the Principal Investigator of the Eastern Mediterranean Hub for Research Capacity Building, based within the CHS Department of AKU, which was launched in 2019 and has trained over 200 participants in health research. sexual and reproductive, including gender-based violence.

“It allows so many people to take their first steps towards quality SRHR research, policy and development. We are contributing to a cause, a country and a region,” said Dr Saleem.

The collaboration aims to provide technical input and expertise on the WHO repository of SRHR data, guidelines and training resources; support WHO to build national and regional capacity in sexual and reproductive health through training on SRHR; and to support WHO in conducting collaborative, WHO-led research on SRHR at the regional level.

The team is forming a virtual network of institutions within EMRO to discuss their needs and share knowledge. The team is already developing an open-access SRHR repository hosted in the AKU library. This project is led by Dr. Peter Gatiti, AKU Associate Vice Provost and University Librarian, and will serve as a unique, region-specific resource for scientists, researchers, and policymakers.

WHO Collaborating Centers are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the programs of the organization.

WHO has access to the best centers around the world and the institutional capacity to ensure the scientific validity of global health work. Conversely, designation as a WHO Collaborating Center provides institutions with increased visibility and recognition by national authorities, drawing public attention to the health issues they are working on.

Dr. Farina Abrejo, lead teacher, is the center’s co-lead researcher. The AKU School of Nursing and Midwifery also works with the centre, represented by Dr Saleema Gulzar.

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