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Coffee with Maarten Hoek

Maarten Hoek is our communications manager at NCOH and works as project manager for Prof. Dr. Marion Koopmans at Erasmus MC.

“A jack of all trades”

He graduated from veterinary school at Utrecht University in 2004. Already fascinated by One Health thanks to the teachings of his favourite teacher: Katinka de Balogh (currently Senior Animal Health and Production Officer at Food and Agriculture Organisation – FAO). Katinka connected us to the world. Inviting us in international projects in Finland and Sudan. Exciting us with stories from distant places and showing us how human health is dependent on healthy livestock and a healthy environment. Inspired, he embarked on an adventurous life with frequent international moves that included Kenya, Tanzania, Liberia, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Clocking up experiences on all three aspects of One Health; Human health – working for the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) at the Health Protection Agency and as a Specialist Registrar at the NHS in the UK, setting up maternal health clinics in the Serengeti – Tanzania, and coordinating the Ebola outbreak response in Liberia for WHO. Animal health – working as a vet in Wales, and working on highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in Georgia and Armenia. And Environmental health – working on anti-bioterrorism project in former closed cities in Russia. One of the best projects was working on the Malaria Early Epidemic Detection System (MEEDS) in Zanzibar. You can imagine what a hard job that was! The fresh fruit, the best coffee, the fresh seafood, and the mandatory cool down in the Indian Ocean after a long day in the field.

“Master of none”

One Health used to be seen as the playing field of non-medical disciplines and the concept wasn’t even part of the standard teaching curriculum for many universities until fairly recently. Due to the climate crisis, the threat of antimicrobial resistance, the loss of biodiversity, the COVID-19 pandemic and in no small part thanks to the tireless lobbying and education by One Health champions, the One Health concept is now a widely accepted and embraced concept.

Maarten says he was fortunate to obtain a grasp on the various One Health building blocks through his education and work opportunities that were available to him. Also by taking on a wide diversity of jobs that resulted in a rich understanding of the One Health concept, yet as he puts it, he is a master of none. The more valuable skills he has obtained are the ability to read people, bring people together and work to a common goal in a diverse range of settings and cultures. Luckily, One Health projects need managers too for which he is involved at Erasmus MC.

Communication

The NCOH Communication Team is comprised of a team of experienced communication managers from all NCOH Partners, headed by Maarten as the NCOH Communication Manager. Maarten’s role is a.o. to facilitate setting the annual communication strategies and planning of NCOH. On board for almost one year now, Maarten says it has been a short but interesting ride. The pandemic provided ample opportunities for testing the core strength of NCOH; an efficient and effective network based on trust and common interests. This allowed for the rapid initiation of COVID-19 related research. Without the existence of NCOH both the speed, amount and number of partners involved with whom agreements were already in place would not have been possible as easily and quickly.

Spoiler alert!

NCOH was launched 5 years ago. Much has been achieved since. A staggering number of PhD’s are enrolled in as many NCOH projects. One of the communication’s team successful examples is the creation of the NCOH webinars to bring experts from all over the world together to discuss specific One Health topics. Moreover, the future is looking bright; the Executive Board is working hard on setting an ambitious agenda for the next 5 years. Other focal points for the coming months are to bring the social media presence in line with the new NCOH agenda, and to provide more podium for young NCOH. For now, mark 10 December 2021 in your calendars for the NCOH Annual Scientific Meeting 2021 in Wageningen. In addition, 3 November is Global One Health day and we are working hard on bringing you a truly global experience that day!

Personal “One Health” experience

Maarten lives in Rotterdam with his wife, two daughters, a dog, and a cat. His spare time is filled with garden dinner parties and training for ultra-endurance bike-packing adventures. The Atlas Mountain Race in Morocco is high on his wish list. Two years ago, he convinced his then 9 and 11 year old daughters to cycle with him all the way from Utrecht to Ljubljana in Slovenia. A three-week, 1200 km adventure they will never forget and, at least for now, say they do not wish to repeat. Preferring old-fashioned horsepower to cycling. Cannot beat the cuteness of ponies.

More about Maarten Hoek: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maarten-hoek-0201a53/.

If you have any questions for Maarten please use: [email protected].