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Spotlight On: Global Health Advisory Board Member Thijs Theeling

Spotlight On: Global Health Advisory Board Member Thijs Theeling

Global Health Advisory Board member Thijs Teeling with Regine Aalders, Counselor for Health, Welfare and Sport, The Embassy of the Netherlands.

May 30, 2017

Thijs Teeling has worked on health improvement projects in many parts of the world over his career, and he has often observed a lack of global health knowledge among some project participants. For that reason, he has been a vocal champion of McMaster’s MSc Global Health program since it launched in 2010.

Teeling is a member of the Global Health Advisory Board, which oversees the program’s McMaster-Maastricht partnership and provides strategic direction. The board is comprised of leaders from diverse backgrounds in the private sector, NGOs, and health care consultancies around the world, with Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands as Honorary Chair.

Back in the early days of the MSc Global Health program, Teeling remembers speaking to an accreditation committee about the urgent demand for graduates with comprehensive knowledge of global health. “I gave a sales pitch, explaining the need for this program and offering assurances that there were at least 30 jobs that could be filled by people from the program,” he says. “I didn’t dare go higher at the time. Today, I’m proud of the overwhelming success of the 200 students we now have in Maastricht and Hamilton – not to mention the fact that there are 37 different nationalities from all over the world.”

Teeling believes the program’s alumni will play a pivotal part in global health diplomacy, which he considers the most important innovation in global health today. “What this means is that the several players involved in a project understand that close cooperation with all participants can lead to the best approach to the health problems we’re facing,” he says. “NGOs, government, scientific institutions, and industry should work hand-in-hand. By doing so, we can be much more efficient in our development of aid programs.”

Teeling, who recently retired from his position as Vice-President of Global Projects at Dräger Medical, an international leader in the field of medical and safety technology, was awarded a knighthood this fall in the order of Oranje-Nassau, a Dutch order given to Dutch citizens and foreign diplomats for their service to the nation. The knighthood recognized his outstanding contribution to the Netherlands’ society and promoting health care business internationally. He currently runs his own consulting company, Covalence, and is Chair of Task Force Health Care, a partnership between the Dutch government, the medical technological industry, NGOs, and educational institutions.

Looking ahead, Teeling predicts the major challenge in global health over the next decade will be the sudden emergence of diseases that require a coordinated international response. “If we’re facing these diseases, then rapidly spreading effective solutions to entire populations must be possible,” he says. “This requires a strong, connected network of global health specialists, and I expect our alumni will play an important role.”