Maternal Health, Dr. Temmerman talks to Beng Poblete-Enriquez about her priorities


who-healthsmallDr. Marleen Temmerman, head of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization in Geneva, joined the agency late last year because she believes it can play a very prominent role in meeting the unmet needs of so many women in the area of reproductive health and services.

Dr. Temmerman talks to Beng Poblete-Enriquez about her priorities and recalls an early experience in Kenya where a 15 year-old pregnant girl died in her arms from a ruptured uterus.


Marleen Temmerman will leave Flanders for Geneva, where she will lead the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of its main programmes aims to improve global efforts in the field of sexual and reproductive health, with Flanders as one of its main sponsors. The appointment of Flemish top scientist Temmerman not only brings international recognition for her work, but also gives her the chance to continue her pioneering work in the field of reproductive health and the battle against child and maternal mortality.

Crowning achievement of a successful career

Temmerman_WHODuring her entire career, Marleen Temmerman has been committed to better health care for disadvantaged groups, and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. She had a pioneering role in research, medicine and politics. Her future mission at the World Health Organization is in line with this commitment. The WHO programme encourages countries around the world to build up research capacity and to improve maternal and child care, family planning, and cancer and infection treatments.

Marleen Temmerman was chosen from 240 candidates, given her extensive experience in the field as a doctor-gynecologist, scientist, professor, and field worker in several African countries, but also as an activist and politician. With this appointment, she becomes the highest-ranked Belgian official within the World Health Organization.

Flanders and the WHO
The RHR Department focuses on themes such as promoting family planning, improving health of mothers and infants, prevention of unsafe abortion, controlling sexually transmitted infections and finally on gender, reproductive rights, sexual health and adolescence. The Department includes the “Special Programme for Research and Development in the area of Reproductive Health“, with Flanders as the fifth largest donor and board member.

Flanders currently supports important research work on antenatal care in Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa (4.5 million euro over 5 years), coordinated by the RHR department. Starting this year, Flanders also makes an important contribution of 750,000 euro for the overall operation of the Department. For more information on this support, see the Flemish ODA reports, available at


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