40 years ago today, on March 19 1979, a group of medical students united to focus on global public health. Since then, Wemos has grown into an international lobbying organisation that is strongly committed to advocating the right to health for all.

In 1979, a group of critical medical students at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam gave a series of lectures on the extent to which tropical doctors in low- and middle-income countries formed a long-term solution to public health problems. At the two-day conference ‘Health and Politics in Developing Countries’ at the University of Amsterdam, it became clear that there was great interest in this issue. Shortly afterwards, Wemos became an official foundation that aimed to draw attention to the discussion on this subject.


In the 1980s, Wemos made a success of the Organon case. In the 1990s, the organisation focused on issues such as equal access to healthcare and advocacy, as well as lobbying activities at the European level. From 2000 onwards, Wemos sought out partnerships with organisations in low- and middle-income countries. And from 2010 onwards, Wemos repositioned itself as a global health advocate. Over the years, the goal has always remained the same: to improve public health.


Health is (still) political

On 6 September, we are organising a conference that focuses on the following question: why is the work of Wemos still relevant – even so many years after the first conference ‘Health and Politics in Developing Countries’? Is health still a political issue? With a diverse programme and national and international speakers, we will seek answers to this and other questions about global health.

Keep an eye on this page in the coming period for more information, stories and blog posts about the history of Wemos and our work on global health!



Wilbert Bannenberg – ’19 March 1979 – The start of Wemos’