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Ok Pannenborg
Ok Pannenborg graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands (international law) and subsequently from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Toronto, Canada (infectious diseases and tropical medicine). He holds doctorates in law and tropical medicine from the Universities of Groningen and Amsterdam. Later he graduated from the Harvard Business School’s Executive Management Program. Preceding his academic studies he worked in the merchant marine.

He worked for UNHCR, WHO and non-governmental organizations in Africa (e.g. Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia), Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, India, the Philippines, China, South Korea and the South Pacific), Latin-America (the Central- American countries, Mexico, Brazil) and Europe (WHO Europe, Copenhagen, with work in most West & Eastern European economies).  He was a professor of preventive and social medicine and published on global health, health research and science & technology and innovation, epidemiology, global pharmaceuticals, human resources in health (HRH) and tropical medicine.

After directing long-range strategic policy and introducing scenario analysis and research for health policy at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Health (among the first in the world at that time, including specific Government Committees on Medical Technology, Pharmaceutical Developments, Medical Schools & Human Resources Strategies, etc.) and simultaneously serving as population & health advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at The Hague, he joined the World Bank in Washington in 1986. He retired from the World Bank a few years ago. 

He was the original architect of the first ‘sector-wide approach’ in health: the successful Bangladesh Population and Health Consortium, which continues to finance one of the largest investment funded health operations worldwide and introduced several new and  innovative pharmaceutical, HRH medical education and global health diplomacy approaches. 

As the World Bank Group’s Chief Health Advisor at Director level and its Chief Health Scientist, Ok Pannenborg was the Bank’s most senior technical health official in the 1990s and 2000s.  Previously, he was a Division Chief, Sector Manager and Sector Leader for health operations and the ranking member of the Bank’s Sector Board for Health, Nutrition and Population. Within the World Bank Group his focus included in particular global population dynamics, international health & medical research, medical technology innovation, higher education in health & medicine and medical academia, the human-resources-in-health (HRH) dysfunctionalities, pharmaceutical development, infectious and neglected diseases of poverty,  new approaches for investing in private sector health development in developing countries (PPPs, jointly with the International Finance Corporation –IFC-, the private sector financing arm of the World Bank Group) and the inclusion of the BIC countries as major players in global health (China, India and Brazil) in the context of global health diplomacy.  On all these subjects Dr. Pannenborg has been the Bank’s leader on fostering partnerships and joint and global funding arrangements.

He was a founding member of the Roll-Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership and the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM, jointly with Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate), as well as the Inter-Agency Pharmaceutical Coordination Group (IPC). He played a major role in the early global HRH mobilization and strengthening of medical schools and universities and their quality assurance in developing countries (jointly with the Rockefeller Foundation, WHO, Harvard University and many others). He is/has been a member of a number of national and international scientific and research committees, including the Boards of Directors of the Tropical Disease Research (TDR) Program (for several  years he chaired the TDR Board’s Executive/Standing Committee) and the Global Forum for Health Research (similarly, he chaired the GFHR Council’s Strategic & Technical Committee), as well as the Board of Ministers and Directors of the  large African Riverblindness/Onchocerciasis Control Program (where equally he chaired for extended periods of time the APOC Board’s CSA - the Board’s Executive Committee). He served on the recent WHO Research Strategy Panel and was a member of the 2010 WHO Expert Group on Innovative Financing for Health Research (chaired by Sir George Alleyne), as well as the 2013 WHO Panel on Academic Health & Medical Education.

He served as Head of Delegation to the World Health Assembly for both the Government of the Netherlands and the World Bank and was a member of the Boards/Councils of many private/public sector programs/initiatives/organizations/companies in global health such as MMV, the Meningitis Vaccine West-Africa Task Force, various TB partnerships, the Malaria AMC program (he co-chaired the AMC Concept Committee with Ken Arrow, Nobel Laureate), the Children’s Vaccine Initiative (CVI), the Global Task Force on Human-Resources-in Health (HRH), the South Pacific Health Network Initiative, the Cardiovascular Program for Developing Countries, the Strategies for Enhancing Access to Medicines (SEAM) Program, the Central-America Revolving Fund for Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines and the more recent China-Africa Health Development Task Force (World Bank & IMF) . He was also directly instrumental in the creation of the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria & Tuberculosis, the global Task Forces for Influenza (avian and human – Asia, Europe, Mexico and Africa) and the new Hilleman Laboratories for Health Research for Developing Countries in India.   

He has been a vaccine and technology advisor at the National Institute of Health in Pakistan, a family planning & reproductive health technology advisor at the BKKBN in Indonesia, an emergency health advisor to the Government of Nepal, a refugee health advisor to the Governments of Congo, Uganda and Sudan, a medical technology advisor to the South Africa AIDS Vaccine Program, an advisor to the experimental health insurance schemes in Nigeria, an HRH advisor to the OECD and an advisor to the Founding Board of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in Seoul, South Korea. In addition, he was instrumental in strengthening the global roles of the Brazilian FioCruz Institutes in Rio de Janeiro and the Public Health Institute of Vietnam.

Ok Pannenborg was a member of many medical education & research committees, including those of the Netherlands Medical Research Council and Ministry of Health on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, on Medical Technology Strategies, on long-term Cardiovascular Health Developments, on the Future of the Hospital, on Strategic Oncology Perspectives and on the Geriatric Outlook of Western Europe. He also served as an advisor to the U.S. IOM Program on Innovation of Medical Technology. In addition, he served on many Expert Committees of the various Regional WHO Offices, including EURO (Copenhagen), SEARO (Delhi), WPRO (Manila), AFRO (Brazzavile) and PAHO (Washington). He also oversaw the World Bank – Health & Medical Industry Liaison Group. He remains an active  member of the EU sponsored European Forum for Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP) and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), as well as the EU Antibiotic Resistance Program,  and was a founding member of the International Society for Quality Assurance, as well as the International Society for Medical Technology Assessment. More recently he served as an external advisor to the South African Government on their health insurance reform program, represented the Government of the Netherlands at the WHO/World Bank Ministerial Conference on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and was an advisor for strategic long-term innovation strategies for McKinsey and various pharmaceutical industries. He chaired the Panel on Long-term Investing & Financing at the 2013 Africa Pharmaceutical Summit and in November 2015 concluded the structure of the new ASEAN Accreditation partnership for medical universities with the Governments of Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.

Throughout his career he held teaching assignments and taught current global health issues at the Universities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Leyden, Columbia, Brown, Chapel Hill, Michigan, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University (New York), Dar-es-Salaam (Muhimbili), Karachi (Aga Khan), Dhaka (ICCDRB), Wageningen, Paris, Dakar, Yaounde, Nairobi, Kampala, Johannesburg (Wits), Capetown, Durban (KwaZulu Natal), Osaka/Kobe, Shanghai, and many others. He continues to regularly lecture at leading global health institutions such as the NIH, CDC, the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, BRAC (Bangladesh) and various African and Asian national and regional health science and technology centers.

In 2014-2015 he served as the ERP Director a.i. at the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO Office for the Americas in Washington D.C., following which he continued to serve as Chairman of the Board of the Netherlands’ Government Commission on Global Health Research, as Chairman of the Academic Supervisory Committee for Health of the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, and as Chairman of the USAID/CapacityPlus Global Advisory Board on Strengthening Health Professionals’ and Medical Schools in Developing Countries. Earlier he concluded his representation of WHO in Washington D.C. on its Innovation and Research Program on Diseases of Poverty.  He continues to be particularly involved in the efforts to strengthen universities and the health & biomedical sciences in the Middle-East, Asia and Africa, including the efforts by the World Bank, the Asian and African Development Banks, the Kuwait and Saudi Funds, the China Medical Board, and others to support emerging and poorer economies to establish regional academic centers of excellence (ACEs, with an emphasis on Africa and South Asia). He recently joined the newly established Board of the merged Commission on Health Research & Development and the Global Forum for Health Research, in Geneva; he also continues to serve of some WHO technical advisory panels (e.g. HRH).  In addition he provides periodic long-term strategic global health and emerging markets advice to selected public-private partnerships (PPPs), e.g. in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and with the Global Antibiotic Resistance initiatives (Sweden). He also served and still serves on some non-profit and charitable Foundation Boards and Programs (e.g.  the Bombay Leprosy Program, the Myanmar Health & Development Consortium, the Roling Foundation, IntraHealth International, etc.).

Ok Pannenborg published several books and articles (as well as large numbers of internal government and technical reports) in the various fields of global health and diplomacy, indicated in the above summary.  He speaks several languages, plays the flute in classical chamber music ensembles, enjoys mountaineering, philosophy and tree taxonomy, and lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.