Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

Tom Puls, 25.10.1946 - 17.11.2017

52nd WHA 1999, Geneva: Tom Puls (left), Miguel Angel Argal, President of MMI, and Harrie van Balen presenting: „Contracting NGOs for Health“, a proposal for a WHO Resolution
52nd WHA 1999, Geneva: Tom Puls (left), Miguel Angel Argal, President of MMI, and Harrie van Balen presenting: „Contracting NGOs for Health“, a proposal for a WHO Resolution

Basel, 24 November 2017. We are sorry to inform you that Tom Puls, tropical doctor and former director of Medicus Mundi Nederland, passed away last Friday at the age of 71. Tom was a dedicated promoter of Primary Health Care, an original mind and an inspiration for many. In personal statements, MMI friends and colleagues share their memories and express their condolences to his wife and family.

Tom Puls, 25.10.1946 - 17.11.2017. Memories and thoughts of MMI colleagues and friends

Guus Eskens

Tom was the director of Medicus Mundi Nederland before it merged with Memisa into “Memisa Medicus Mundi “. Tom has always been quite active within Medicus Mundi International in his active days, where he maintained a broad network. He very often attended meetings of the MMI coordinating committee (now called the MMI Board) in Brussels and he also attended very often international gatherings and meetings of Medicus Mundi International outside the Netherlands. He was well known to many medical staff and bishops in several catholic dioceses in Africa. Myself I was deployed as a pharmacist in Ghana through Tom and I did work with Tom quite intensively during the time I was the managing director of Memisa Medicus Mundi and later on as director international programs of Cordaid. I lost contact with Tom since I left Cordaid in 2004. I just met him again a couple of years ago during a MMI dinner in Brussels. He was a very nice person and a good colleague.


Edgar Widmer

Thanks for informing me about the passing away of our appreciated colleague Tom Puls. During the many years I collaborated with him within MMI I could profit from his large experience, especially in promoting strategic reorientation of church health policy. When in 2004, in the midst of the preparation of the AMECEA Bishops Working Conference in Kampala, he was suddenly prevented from participating, I had to take over the part of MMI. He was somehow the initiator of a series of important bishop’s gatherings dealing with church’s health policy and its partnership with governments. Accompanying him to some meetings in WHO I learned how much the different liaison persons appreciated his ideas and proposals. He had an original mind. I will not forget him.


Carlos Mediano

They are really sad news. I did't have a lot of contact with Tom Puls, but  I hear a lot about his degree of involvement with MMI and our goal of "health for all". I think he was a person that, as Miguel Angel Argal used to say, "preferred to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness".



Christina de Vries

The sad news about the passing away of Tom Puls has struck me and my colleagues at Cordaid very much. He personified Memisa Medicus Mundi in The Netherlands very much during a certain era. Like you are sharing good memories online, we shared in the office good and vivid memories about his passion for Primary Health Care and his devotion to Medicus Mundi. Indeed, like you are all recalling, he was a remarkable person and an inspiration to us all.  Many former tropical doctors in The Netherlands have lively memories and many anecdotes of his visits to them while in the field, sharing their concerns, supporting and inspiring them to do more.


Nina Urwantzoff

Thank you for sharing the sad news of Tom Puls passing away. Misereor had much contact with Tom Puls when we used to gather to attend the Medical Advisors’ Meeting among European NGOs some years ago and also  when we interacted and cooperated  with him as he was the  Director of Medicus Mundi Netherlands and after the merging of Caritas Netherlands and Cebemo into Cordaid. We have known him as a competent and a good companion and appreciated his commitment. I always considered him a” fellow traveler“ for Health for all.


Nicolaus Lorenz

We have lost an important Primary Health Care activist. Tom will continue to inspire us and hopefully also younger generations to come.


Christoph Bonsmann

On behalf of action medeor, I wish to express our sincere condolence to the family and friends of Tom Puls.


Monique Lagro

This is indeed sad news! I worked with Tom for more than 10 year and remember him as a very passionate person for universal health coverage. We had tosgether an unforgettable field  trip to the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo after the refugees Rwanda crisis. He has been a very important person for Memisa and Cordaid’s actual Health Department!


Klemens Ochel

Nina has forwarded the sad news of the death of Tom Puls. I first met him during “Medical Advisory” Meetings at Memisa Medicus Mundi in the early 1990s in the Netherlands. He was a strong and eloquent advocate for Comprehensive Primary Health Care and professional public health in resource constraints settings. We intensively worked together for establishing Christian health care associations in West Africa from 1995 until 2008. His issues are still not settled and challenge Catholic health care institutions. I learned a lot from him and I am very grateful that I benefited from his professional experience and qualities. My condolences for his family and friends. I have lost a good friend.


Remco van de Pas

Thank you for informing of the death of Tom Puls.
My condolences for colleagues, family and friends.
May his spirit and memories keep inspiring the next generations.


Gianpiero Carosi, Massimo Chiappa, Fabian Schumacher

On behalf of Medicus Mundi Italy, and as members of the Medicus Mundi International community we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Tom. We are deeply saddened to hear that a strong fighter for health of all has passed away but are sure that his example will continue to guide us in continuing our struggle for what was so important to him! Requiescat in Pace.


Bart Criel

On behalf of the Public Health Department of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (where I am based), I wish to express my sincere feelings of condolence to the family of Tom Puls. I do recall Tom as an engaged and enthusiastic ‘militant’ of Primary Health Care. He was part of that group of ‘elders’ that still continues to inspire and motivate me in my daily work.


Giovanni Putoto and Andrea Atzori

Though we did not had the opportunity to know personally Tom, we would like to join you, on behalf of Doctors with Africa Cuamm, in expressing our sorrow for the loss of a colleague who contributed with his life and professional integrity to the health of the poor and the marginalized. May his soul rest in peace. Please, convey our condolences to the family.


Félix Fuentenebro

Medicusmundi spain (FAMME) had the chance to enjoy working with Tom on the occasion of his participation in the proposal “contracting to improve health systems” in which we discovered his capacity to connect with the people. After that, he joined us sometimes and we realized that he was a very nice person with a privileged mind. We sorrow his death, our condolences to his family and friends.


Jos Dusseljee

My memories of Tom date back to 1985 when I applied to Medicus Mundi for a position of management consultant in mission hospitals in an African country. Tom found the right position for me and for the years to come he was my first and foremost inspirator. It is thanks to him that I took a lot of interest in public health in general and the need for a strong engagement between hospitals and the communities they served. After 4 years in Kenya I was invited to work at the Memisa and took over part of Tom’s portfolio. For ten years I saw him as a mentor, who was a thought leader in public health, displaying endless energy and perseverance in his work at then Memisa Medicus Mundi, in positions in the board of Medicus Mundi International and the Netherlands Society of Tropical Medicine. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to have worked with Tom.


Sake Rypkema

Thank you all for your sincere condolences. I worked with him since he became director of Medicus Mundi in the Netherlands. He was more than a colleague, he was a friend. Several times we had contact up till last year. Inspirator of PHC and very appreciated  by our counterparts in Africa, most of them being church representatives. Thanks that we had him for a long time in our organization, our engaged humanistic philosopher.

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