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The Amsterdam Law School will participate in the UvA-wide research theme ‘Global Health’. Johan Legemaate and Anniek de Ruijter will lead the efforts on behalf of the Amsterdam Law School. An interview with Johan Legemaate on their ambitions.

What does Global Health entail?

‘Global Health is a broad concept. Many diseases and health risks are not confined to our national borders. An outbreak of bird flu in China is cause for concern in Western Europe or South America. It also pertains to food regulations, for example, and the impact of the climate on health. This global dimension is the starting point of Global Health research, but Global Health can be local as well. When it comes to creating and regulating vaccination policy in the Netherlands, for instance, you can look at what’s happening in the rest of the world and on the internet to develop a local solution.’

How can law play a role in this?

‘Law plays an important role in the organisation of Global Health. Some topics within Global Health are very closely related to law, such as infectious disease control, access to safe abortion, and access to safe drugs and health care. Many norms and values within traditional public health law are also shaped by international rules and global developments.’

What does participation in the research priority area mean for the Amsterdam Law School?

‘We hope that we will have more scope for legal experts at our School to collaborate with sociologists, anthropologists and medical practitioners on interdisciplinary research in the field of public health law, but also at the interface of environment and health. For example, I read that a particular cancer treatment is prohibited in the Netherlands because of environmental legislation. The relationship between environmental policy and health is an ideal topic for Global Health: just consider antibiotic resistance, or the link between deforestation and mining and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Our participation additionally means that our Master’s in Public Health Law, which recently started using a new curriculum, can be more embedded in research. And although the Global Health topics may not always fit perfectly into this Master’s programme, we believe that if the programme is more embedded in research, this will certainly deepen and broaden the curriculum.’ 

About Global Health

For a period of four years (2020-2023), the Amsterdam Law School will receive €50,000 each year to work on the Global Health Research Priority Area (RPA). The research will be carried out in collaboration with the AMC, the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Developmentand the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.