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Thursday, 30th of January 2014 Print

Today, 31 January 2014, marks the retirement from W.H.O. of Johannes (Hans) Everts, technical officer in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Rarely has there been such a flying Dutchman. By the time of his retirement, Hans had enough frequent flyer miles to take him to the moon and back. I first met him in Nairobi in 1999, when he successfully organized the Congolese, east and west, into a single microplanning exercise for the polio campaigns of that year. Hans would always search for the best available data and then use them to make the best informed decision. That we are now down to three polio endemic countries is due in no small measure to the work of Hans and his colleagues in Geneva. My guess is that Hans will be retired but not tired, and that no one in the country offices should be surprised to find him returning to his old stamping grounds, as energetic and as well informed as ever. Tot ziens!

Two tributes below from other colleagues. If you want your tribute(s) posted next week, drop me a line at rdavis@africamail.com, with ‘Everts’ in the title line.

Bob D.



You have inspired many of us. To me, your name is necessarily linked to the promotion of the SOS strategy, with all the work that went around its roll-out. You have been methodical, systematic and friendly in your approach to work with colleagues in the countries.  You have been accepted in countries in Africa where there was great reluctance to engage with HQ colleagues. You are just a great human person with a fantastic personal touch.
Have a wonderful retirement period !

Dr JM Okwo-Bele
Immunisation, vaccines and biologicals department
World Health Organization (WHO)


Irina Dincu, formerly of the UNICEF regional office in Dakar, now writing from Bucharest:

‘Hans Everts is one of the few people I admire without any reservations in polio eradication. I met him in difficult places in Africa – DR Congo, Chad, Republic of Congo, and most recently Cameroon. I admired a lot his frank speech, and learnt a lot from him. As it comes, the most recent polio outbreak in Cameroon brought us together in Bafoussam. It will be a great loss to the polio team in Africa, but I am sure he will be back very soon.’