Symposium provides interdisciplinary platform for global health research

Moving to a healthcare system from a “sick care” system

Creating solutions that ensure equal access to care for all: that was the goal of the Joep Lange Chair & Fellows symposium held last week at the Amsterdam UMC.

As part of the theme “Access to care”, the four Joep Lange Chairs – Profs. Dan Ariely, Anna Vassall, Mark Dybul and Catherine Kyobutungi – came together to discuss, with the audience, collaborative solutions to help people around the world in living a healthy and fulfilling life.

The Joep Lange Chair and Fellows program was established in the honor of Prof Lange to commemorate the ground-breaking contributions of him to HIV and global health research and to advance his scientific legacy of cutting edge, innovative approaches to health. Prof. Lange, who founded AIGHD, and his partner Jacqueline van Tongeren were killed when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014.

Last week’s symposium was the first time all four Chairs were brought together since the program was launched in 2015.

The audience included people from academia, government and the private sector who came together to hear brief presentations from the Chairholders, and more importantly, to engage in a larger discussion about the need to combine disciplines to tackle global health issues.

All four Chairs discussed their own areas of expertise including behavioral economics, communities of practice, health economics and chronic disease management and how they can work together to develop tangible solutions that help people improve their health and wellbeing around the world.

As part of the interactive discussion with the audience, Prof. Kyobutungi encouraged attendees to think about health from an interdisciplinary perspective.

“The health sector is a catalyst for health but it’s not the majority stakeholder. People’s health is also impacted by where they live, their dietary and tobacco habits, if they have a job and feel happy in life,” said Prof. Kyobutungi, adding there were a number of synergies between the Chairs’ respective presentations.

The Joep Lange Chair and Fellows symposium sparked three days of research, networking and discussions. The symposium also served as a platform for the Chairs and the audience to discuss future possible areas of collaboration focused on an interdisciplinary approach.

“I am really interested in working with the other chairs and see where we can collaborate to further our work in global health,” said Prof. Dybul after the event.

“All global health problems require collaboration over disciplines and AIGHD provides a perfect platform for this,” echoed Prof. Kyobutungi.

The symposium was co-organized by AIGHD and the Joep Lange Institute.

About the Joep Lange Chair & Fellows Program

The goal of the program is to promote collaborative research, including health economic and (mathematical) modeling approaches, and teaching interactions in global health in its broadest definition, with the ultimate aim of achieving ground-breaking progress in health systems and service delivery in low- and middle-income countries, for both infectious and non-communicable diseases.

The program is funded in part by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and commissioned through the Joep Lange Institute. The program is based at Department of Global Health of the Faculty of Medicine and the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development.