Professor Marleen Temmerman is Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aga Khan University (AKU) Hospital Nairobi, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women, Child and Adolescent Health, AKU East-Africa, and also a full Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Ghent University in Belgium. As an obstetrician she supervised over 18,000 births in many parts of the world. Her interest is women’s health and rights. She has over 500 publications and books in the area of women’s health, many PhD students in Europe, Africa (mainly Kenyan scientists), Latin-America and China, and several awards and honours. In 2007, she was elected as Senator in the Belgian Parliament where she was member of the Committee on Social Affairs, and Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
From 2012-2015, she was the Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) at the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, the main instrument within the United Nations for research in women’s health. It brings together policy-makers and programmers, scientists, health care providers, clinicians, consumers, advocates and women’s groups, to identify and address priorities for research to improve women’s health from a rights-based perspective. She was one of the main penholders of the UN Global Strategy for Women’s, Children and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030, launched by the UNSG and partners in September 2015, transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs.
Her international career took off in Kenya in 1986 when she joined the University of Nairobi (UON) as a visiting lecturer in the College of Health Sciences, to lead research in the field of HIV/AIDS and women-child health. She worked for 5 years at the University as well as in Pumwani Maternity Hospital, in research, learning, and capacity building. She is the Founding Director of the International Centre of Reproductive Health (ICRH) that she started in 1994 at Ghent University. In 2000, she initiated ICRH-Kenya, a research-based organisation with over 100 Kenyan staff in offices at the Kenyatta National Hospital and at the Technical University Mombasa (TUM) campus.