Stories from Our Community

IHEID Professor Works to Fight Ebola

“At regular intervals, a global health crisis like the Ebola outbreak in 2014 reminds the world that there is a need to act together because the health of one part of the globe is inextricably linked to the health of another,” Ilona Kickbusch says.

Dr. Kickbusch is the Director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. She also serves as senior advisor to the Regional Directors of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Offices for Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Dr. Kickbusch has worked with the WHO at various levels and is a member of the independent Ebola interim assessment panel of the WHO. Through these efforts, she has been deeply involved in the development of the Health 2020 European health policy framework.

“Health was one of the first trans-border issues to employ multilateral diplomatic mechanisms during the 19th century,” she notes. “Yet, 160 years after the first engagement, the political commitment to invest significantly in common health security… has not manifested itself sufficiently… The Ebola epidemic of 2014–5 provided a wake-up call.”

In Switzerland, she serves on the executive board of the Careum Foundation and on the expert panel to the Federal Councillor to advice on the implementation of the Swiss Health Strategy 2020. Dr. Kickbusch has published widely and is a member of a number of advisory boards in both the academic and the health policy arena. She has received many awards, including honorary doctorates from the Nordic School of Public Health and the University of Girona.

“Global challenges [like Ebola] can only be resolved jointly…. Ebola might be such a critical point in time that kick-starts a new dynamic in global health.”