Meet the ECTMIH 2023 scientific track and committee leaders!

An international team will shape and curate all aspects of the ECTMIH 2023 programme and activities

Charles Agyemang

Track 3: Non-Communicable Diseases

Professor Charles Agyemang’s research is focused on ethnic inequalities in health with a major focus on cardiovascular diseases; and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries. 

His primary focus is on gaining insights into how migration, and the contexts in which migrants and ethnic minority groups live and work, shape their health, to improve intervention programmes and clinical practice. Most recently he has focused on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on racial and ethnic minorities in the developed world.

He is a Professor of Global Migration, Ethnicity and Health, and Principal Investigator at Amsterdam University Medical Centre. He is also currently the Vice President of the Migrant Health section of the European Public Health Association, Scientific Chair of the Global Society of Migration, Ethnicity, Race & Health; and a fellow of the prestigious European Research Council under the Consolidation Award programme. 

Charles is the Principal Investigator of the RODAM study; he is a member of the WHO task force on NCDs in Migrants and was also a member and a rapporteur of the Planning Committee for WHO Global Consultation on Migrant Health. He is a member of the Lancet Racial Equality Advisory Board and the European Hypertension Society Workgroup on Hypertension & Cardiovascular Risk in Low Resource Settings. 

Charles serves as a member of several scientific advisory boards; he is also an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; and Section Editor (Global Health) for Journal of the American Heart Association.

He leads the scientific programme Track 3: Non-Communicable Diseases with Professor Alta Schutte, University of New South Wales.

Thomas van den Akker

Track 5: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Professor Thomas van den Akker is an obstetrician-gynaecologist, specialising in maternal-fetal medicine, at the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands. 

His primary clinical and research interest is on maternal health, near-miss and mortality during pregnancy, as well as confidential enquiry and participatory action research among his areas of expertise. He holds a chair as professor of global maternal health at the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and is a visiting research fellow at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit of the Oxford University in the UK. Prior to that, he worked for four years as a medical doctor in International Health and Tropical Medicine in Malawi, and he has been part of several large research consortiums in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. He currently chairs the Working Party on International Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health.

Thomas leads the scientific programme Track 5: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, with Professor Annettee Nakimuli, Makarere University, Uganda.

Regien Biesma

Track 6: Child and Adolescent Health

Dr Regien Biesma is an epidemiologist and public health specialist with a research focus on estimating and reducing the disparity gap in maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. She has a particular interest in maternal and child nutrition. 

Regien works at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), the Netherlands, where she teaches global health at undergraduate and postgraduate level at the medical faculty. She currently supervises several PhD candidates in implementation research for maternal, newborn and child health interventions. Currently, she is working on a research grant on interdisciplinary approaches to improve food and nutrition security by enhancing women empowerment in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. She is also working on child growth monitoring to improve early detection of child malnutrition in Uganda. 

Before joining UMCG in 2018, she spent 11 years at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where she worked on health systems and policy research in Africa and Asia. She was an invited expert for the World Health Organization expert consultation on maximizing positive synergies between health systems and global health Initiatives.  She is a research fellow at the Aletta School of Public Health, the Netherlands. She serves as a member of the Netherlands Working Group on international Nutrition and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lifecourse Nutrition Center, Agder University, Norway. Previously she held visiting positions at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Developmental Origins of Adult Health and Disease Centre at Southampton University.  

Regien leads the scientific programme Track 6: Child and Adolescent Health with Dr Ntombizodumo (Zodumo) Mvo, University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.

Harry Coleman

Social Committee

Harry Coleman is an advisor in the health systems strengthening team at the Royal Tropical Institute (or KIT) in Amsterdam. 

He is currently working on a number of applied research and advisory projects including: a feasibility study for maternal and newborn health service redesign in Sindh, Pakistan; regular monitoring of health management information system reporting in Afghanistan, and; leading an evaluation of HRH achievements across ten years in the WHO South-East Asian region. He helps coordinate KIT’s internal working group on fragile- and conflict-affected settings (FCAS), and is also a member of the advisory group for Health Systems Global’s Thematic Working Group on FCAS. 

His PhD focused on the relationship between housing insecurity and health, and was engaged with the Centre for Equity Studies in New Delhi, India. He is interested in health policy and systems research, health equity and integrating social science theory, mixed methods and action research approaches. 

At ECTMIH 2023, he is part of the Scientific Committee for the Planetary Health and Health Systems track, and he co-leads the Social Committee through Uniting Streams.

Martin Heine

Education Committee and ECTMIH Academy

Dr Martin Heine is an Assistant Professor in Global Health at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and research fellow at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. 

His research focusses on implementation research for strengthening access to non-communicable disease management and secondary prevention services in low-resource settings. He is a collaborator on the iHeartSA multi-stakeholder project on the integrated management of HIV and Hypertension, as well as the European funded SCUBY project on integrated management of diabetes and hypertension. He is academic editor for PLoS Global Public Health and sits on the editorial board for the South African Journal of Physiotherapy. In 2020, he was selected as emerging leader by the World Heart Federation, and steering committee member for the International Cardiac Rehabilitation Registry.

Martin serves on the ECTMIH 2023 Local Organising Committee and chairs the Education Committee and ECTMIH Academy.

Wendy Janssens

Track 4: Mental Health

Professor Wendy Janssens’ research focuses on experimental and micro-econometric evaluations of the impact of development programmes in the areas of global mental health, sexual and reproductive health and HIV/Aids, health financing and health behaviour, and women’s empowerment and intra-household decision-making – aiming to understand the behavioural foundations underlying those impacts.

She is Professor in Development Economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Academic Board member of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), on the management team of Health Economics Research Amsterdam, and a research fellow at the Tinbergen Institute. She is also research advisor for PharmAccess International. Previously she held visiting positions at the Institute of Fiscal Studies in London, and the World Bank Development Economics Research group in Washington, DC.

Wendy is coordinating the Global Mental Health theme group at AIGHD, and leading an interdisciplinary research programme on mobile technology and universal health coverage for mothers and children in Kenya, including the evaluation of maternal mental health interventions. She has received numerous research grants, including a BRAC grant to examine digital finance, women's empowerment and mental well-being; a DFID-ESRC grant to study social norms and child marriage in Pakistan; an NWO-Wotro grant on family planning and HIV/AIDS in Mozambique; and an NWO-VENI grant to study the interaction between health insurance and microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Wendy leads the scientific programme Track 4: Mental Health with Dr Estelle Sitze, African Population and Hearth Research Center, Kenya.

Pim Martens

Track 1: Planetary Health and Health Systems

Professor Pim Martens has a PhD in applied mathematics and biological sciences; he is professor of planetary health and dean of Maastricht University Campus Venlo

Pim founded AnimalWise, a “think and do tank” integrating scientific knowledge and animal advocacy to bring about sustainable change in our relationship with animals. He also serves as a member of the The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Planetary Health committee, the Advisory Board of the Life Science Zürich Graduate School, and the Advisory Board of the Natural Resources Institute in Finland.

He leads the scientific programme Track 1: Planetary Health and Health Systems with Professor Monika dos Santos, University of South Africa.

Ntombizodumo (Zodumo) Mvo 

Track 6: Child and adolescent health

Dr Ntombizodumo (Zodumo) Mvo is a paediatrician based at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. Zodumo’s current responsibilities are teaching undergraduate medical students whilst completing an Master's in Medical Education degree and doing clinical work on sessional or locum basis. She is concurrently working on a concept paper for a PhD which will be on maternal and child health in the area of second generation HIV infection in infants of adolescent mothers who were themselves in-utero infected, with a view to finding interventions to break this vicious circle.

Zodumo has a background in social anthropology, epidemiology and biostatistics. Her previous research under the Medical Research Council of South Africa involved maternal and child health in the area of obesity research in women of low socio-economic status and the paradox of child malnutrition in the same settings. Further research on women was on health seeking practices in pregnancy and issues of gender based violence. Recent work through Umkhuseli Innovation and Research Management was on prevention of mother to child HIV transmission focusing on HIV cure in newborn babies of HIV infected mothers through a Wellcome Trust funded clinical trial that is still ongoing.

Zodumo leads the scientific programme Track 6: Child and Adolescent Health with Dr Regien Biesma, University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands.

Annettee Nakimuli

Track 5: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Professor Annettee Nakimuli is Dean of the School of Medicine at Makerere University, in  Uganda, with a special interest in high-risk pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia, a major cause of death and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Her PhD research was a landmark study as was the first genetic case-control study on pre-eclampsia among indigenous Africans despite African ancestry being a predisposing factor to pre-eclampsia. In particular, she investigated the interactions between maternal and fetal immune system genes (KIR and HLA) and the risk of pre-eclampsia in an African population. Her post-doctoral research extended these studies to recruit more mothers and babies with a wider range of pregnancy disorders such as fetal growth restriction, preterm birth and intrauterine fetal death.

She chairs the Pre-eclampsia committee of the National Safemotherhood Expert Committee and is President of the East Central and Southern Africa College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Annettee leads the scientific programme Track 5: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, with Professor Thomas van den Akker, Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

Marianne van der Sande 

Track 2: Infectious Diseases and (Neglected) Tropical Diseases

Marianne van der Sande MD MPH PhD is Professor of Public Health Epidemiology and has headed the Department of Public Health at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp since July 2017. She is also part of the Global Public Health team at the Julius Centre at University Medical Center Utrecht.

Before joining ITM, she was State Epidemiologist of the Netherlands for ten years, heading the Centre of Epidemiology and Surveillance of Infectious Diseases at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. Prior to that, she worked with MSF-Holland in Darfur-Sudan and in Soroti-Uganda, with Memisa in Sichili-Zambia, and at MRC The Gambia as medical epidemiologist. She has (co)authored over 250 peer-reviewed publications and is a member of several international grant review panels.

Marianne leads the scientific programme Track 2: Infectious Diseases and (Neglected) Tropical Diseases with Dr Jaco Verweij, Laboratory for Medical Microbiology and Immunology of the Elisabeth Hospital the Netherlands.

Monika dos Santos

Track 1: Planetary Health and Health Systems

Professor Monika dos Santos is based at the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa. She is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society. In addition to her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in South Africa, she has undertaken fellowships and postgraduate studies in France, the United States of America, Nicaragua, Guyana and the United Kingdom.  

She was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Climate CoLab Fellow in the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, MIT Sloan School of Management, for a number of years. She was also a sustainability science MSc reader at the University of Oxford, Harris Manchester College, and completed research residencies at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Paris 7 Diderot universities under President Emmanuel Marcon’s call to ‘Make our Planet Great Again’. More recently she led the GIZ-funded climate change and health scoping project for South Africa, commissioned by the national departments of health and environment.  

Broadly, her interests lie in the interplay between psychodynamics and ecology – particularly that related to climate change, medicine, health, and the psychopathology spectrum. Additionally, she is looking at how narcissistic traits in humans (whether conscious, unconscious or biological) play out in adversely affecting our environments on a global level - and also how to actively deal with these problems in  tangible ways,  for example, through education and adaptation strategies, such as the provision of healthcare to affected vulnerable communities in Africa.

Monika leads the scientific programme Track 1: Planetary Health and Health Systems with Professor Pim Martens, Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Alta Schutte

Track 3: Non-Communicable Diseases

Alta Schutte PhD, FESC, FRSSAf, ISHF is a Strategic Hires and Retention Pathways (SHARP) Professor and Principal Theme Lead of Cardiac, Vascular and Metabolic Medicine at the University of New South Wales, with a joint appointment as Professorial Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health. She has an honorary appointment at the North-West University and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. 

She has extensive experience in working in population-based studies with a focus on raised blood pressure, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. She has been the Chief Investigator of several multidisciplinary studies and clinical trials, published over 400 papers in the field of blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, and supervised over 85 postgraduate students.

She is involved in numerous international consortia, such as the Global Burden of Disease study, the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, May Measurement Month blood pressure screening initiative, and was one of 20 authors of the Lancet Commission of Hypertension. She is the senior author of the 2020 International Society of Hypertension Global Hypertension Guidelines.

Alta is the recipient of several distinguished awards, including the 2022 Harriet Dustan Award by the Hypertension Council of the American Heart Association. In South Africa she was winner of the Distinguished Woman Scientist in the Natural, Engineering and Life Sciences award, the NSTF South 32 TW Kambule Award; and the 2019 African Union, Kwame Nkrumah Award for Scientific Excellence.

She serves as Associate Editor of Hypertension and is on the Editorial Board of several cardiovascular journals, such as the Journal of Hypertension and BMC Medicine. She is the Secretary of the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance, Co-Chair of the National Hypertension Taskforce of Australia, Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology, the International Society of Hypertension and the Royal Society of South Africa; the Past President of the Southern African Hypertension Society; and Past President of the International Society of Hypertension.

Alma leads the scientific programme Track 3: Non-Communicable Diseases with Professor Charles Agyemang, Amsterdam University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

Estelle Sidze

Track 4: Mental Health

Dr Estelle Sidze is a maternal and child health (MCH) specialist building evidence on inequities in access to quality MCH services and maternal well-being in sub-Saharan Africa. She thrives on ensuring that stakeholders and decision makers in sub-Saharan Africa have adequate and quality data to deliver on the SDG commitment of leaving no one behind in the provision of maternal, child and newborn health services.  

She has been involved in critical experts discussions on social protection for poor mothers and children as a member of the Joint Countdown to 2030 and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Technical Working Group for the Tracking of Official Development Assistance and Domestic Financing for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. She is also at the forefront of strengthening evidence and research relevant to perinatal mental health in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing particularly on adolescents' mothers. She currently works on investigating the trajectories and predictors of perinatal depressive symptoms using longitudinal data sets.

Estelle holds a Master of Sciences and a PhD in Demography from the University of Montreal, Canada. She joined The African Population and Health Research Center in 2011 as a post-doctoral research fellow.

Estelle leads the scientific programme Track 4: Mental Health with Professor Wendy Janssens, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Noa Wijnen

Sports Committee

Noa Wijnen is a dedicated medical doctor with a passion for paediatrics. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD at the Princess Máxima Center for Paediatric Oncology and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where her research mainly focuses on pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. 

In addition, Noa is actively involved in the Outreach program, which is a long-standing collaboration between the Princess Máxima Center and hospitals in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Indonesia, and Kosovo. As part of this program, she is currently working on a supportive care project in Kenya to enhance the nutritional care and infection prevention for pediatric oncology patients.

Outside her work, Noa enjoys marathon running and playing hockey and leads the ECTMIH 2023 Sports Committee with Sanne Peters.

ECTMIH2023 is co-organised by University Medical Center Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, Netherlands
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