Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

In memoriam Piet Sleijffers

In memoriam Piet Sleijffers

Only recently we were informed that the ex-secretary of Medicus Mundi International Piet Sleijffers passed away last year.

Piet Sleijffers started his work in 1966 building up the office of Medicus Mundi in the Netherlands under the inspiring supervision of Professor Oomen, one of the founders of the International Network. Piet Sleijffers organised the acquisition and posting of medical officers in developing countries, the main activity of the international Medicus Mundi Network in that time when newly independent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa made an urgent appeal for public health oriented tropical doctors.

Piet Sleijffers had international experience as secretary of the International Federation of Catholic Hospitals and CIDSE. He endeavoured to improve the international cooperation. He represented Medicus Mundi at the WHO and became a well known person in the WHO offices in Geneva. This resulted in the establishment of "official relations" of MMI with WHO in 1974.

During the yearly World Health Assembly Medicus Mundi organised in that time a conference on health and development, sometimes outside Geneva. It was Sleijffers who build up good contacts with the Ministers of Health in countries where doctors of Medicus Mundi were posted. When they came to Geneva he invited them to join the Medicus Mundi  conference and he found the financial means. Many of them came and participated in the discussions, more frankly speaking than you ever saw in the WHO Assembly. It must be said that thanks to him Medicus Mundi became a well recognised organisation in many countries.

Piet Sleijffers closely worked with the secretariat of Medicus Mundi International, based at Misereor (Aachen). In 1980 the office moved to Nijmegen University. It was during that period that Medicus Mundi Netherlands joined Memisa and moved to Rotterdam. A few years later the international secretariat moved to Brussels. It was hard for Piet Sleijffers to realise that  Nijmegen University would no more host Medicus Mundi. Then he retired.

Piet Sleijffers died of the age of 94 on the 4th of May 2010.

Photo: When he retired from Medicus Mundi Piet Sleijffers received the Royal Decoration of Knighthood of Oranje Nassau because of his merits for development work.

Sake Rypkema, former President
Medicus Mundi International Network
February 2011

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