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Inspiring speeches on launch of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD)

Oct 11, 2009


AIGHD seeks integrated solutions for global health problems.

audiance AIGHD
The audiance during the launch of the AIGHD in De Oude Lutherse Kerk in Amsterdam.

‘We need a new vision on global health’, said Prof. Peter Piot, Director of the Institute for Global Health of the Imperial College in London. ‘These times of globalization require global solutions, through interdisciplinary responses.’ Prof. Piot delivered his speech on October 7th on the launch of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) to underscore the importance of the AIGHD. An institute which does exactly that: it forges integrated solutions in its mission to achieve access to quality health care for all around the globe.

A very optimistic mission, yet a possible one. ‘Simply because we can’, was the brief explanation of founder and Chair of the AIGHD Prof. Joep Lange. According to Prof. Lange the time to be pessimistic is over, ‘it is time to find sustainable solutions through global partnerships.’ This positive vibe of Prof. Lange was felt throughout the festive launch of AIGHD. The day consisted of an interesting symposium in the morning and the official launch in the afternoon with inspiring speeches by renowned speakers. Both events attracted many interesting guests to Amsterdam. Amongst others His Royal Highness Prince Friso and his wife Princess Mabel, the Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Academic Medical Centre (AMC) Louise Gunning, Professor Elly Katabira of the Makerere University and many national and international health experts and politicians.

Princess Mabel
Princess Mabel congratulates Prof. Lange with the launch of the AIGHD. Standing in the middle: Prof. Katabira.

Global fight against AIDS

To underline what can be achieved Prof. Lange referred to the enormous global efforts in the fight against AIDS. ‘Many people told me that it couldn’t be done, and look where we are now, more than four million people in developing countries are on HIV treatment, compared to just 200.000 in 2003.’ A fight that is still not won but that has contributed greatly in the recognition that global health responses are possible. Prof Lange: ‘the next step is to integrate these AIDS programs in general health system solutions.’

Building functioning health systems, is bringing development to these countries. ‘The paradigm that development will eventually lead to health, that health it is a reward of development, is over. The AIDS pandemic has taught us that it is the other way around: health is a driver for development. Investing in health is investing in development,’ explained Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
‘We should therefore think out of the box, doing the same is not working’, emphasized Prof. Helen Rees, Associate Professor of Witwatersrand University, in her presentation on the problems on HIV prevention amongst adolescence. ‘We have to rethink our strategies and be a lot more critical.’


Michel Kazatchkine speeched about the link between health and development.

Forging coalitions

Being pragmatic, innovative and bold are key actions of the AIGHD. The AIGHD will constantly monitor what works and is not afraid to make choices. It will look for effective, made-to-fit solutions trough interdisciplinary responses. Social science will for example be an important component of the AIGHD to better understand what drives people. Prof. Lange: ‘We can come up with fantastic interventions, but if the people don’t want it, it will never work.’ For that reason the institute forges coalitions between, amongst others, anthropologists, economists, lab specialists and medical specialists, on the local, national and international level. ‘Looking for purely medical solutions alone is not sufficient enough in effectively tackling global health issues’, stressed Prof. Piot.

Prince Friso
Third from the right Prince Friso and to his left Louise Gunning.

The physical structure of the institute consists of three mother organizations: The Academic Medical Center (AMC), the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Free University of Amsterdam (VU) and ten other constituents. Amongst these ten are the Health Insurance Fund, PharmAccess, the Investment Fund for Health in Africa (IFHA) and the Medical Credit Fund (MCF). Furthermore, the AIGHD will also partner with collaborating institutions from around the world, like the Makere University in Kampala, Uganda and the Oxford Unit, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. And last, many local partners are included in the partnerships. Prof. Lange: ‘The time has come for equal partnerships. We need each other in reaching our goal of quality health care for all.’

Click here for AIGHD news item on Dutch television (8 uur Journaal).

For press release on the AIGHD launch click here.

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