Keynote speakers

The following persons will be a part of the Annual Conference of Swiss Development cooperation 2015 through round tables or keynote speeches:

Opening address


Didier Burkhalter, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

After graduating in economics from the University of Neuchâtel, Didier Burkhalter held a number of posts in the academic world and the private sector. In 1985, he joined the Radical Free Democratic Party FDP (now the Liberal Democratic Party). He was secretary of the Neuchâtel cantonal branch of the party and full-time secretary for French-speaking Switzerland within the FDP Switzerland General Secretariat. Mr Burkhalter served as a member of the municipal parliament of Hauterive and was a member of the Neuchâtel cantonal parliament. In 1991, he was elected to the executive (city council) of Neuchâtel, which he chaired for three legislative periods and where he remained until 2005. He was elected to the National Council in 2003, then to the Council of States in 2007. On 16 September 2009, the Federal Assembly elected Mr Burkhalter to the Federal Council. He headed the Federal Department of Home Affairs in 2010 and 2011, before taking over as Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs on 1 January 2012. Mr Burkhalter was President of the Swiss Confederation and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office respectively in 2014.

Keynote speech

© Edna Adan Ismail

Edna Adan Ismail, founder and director of Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland

Somali-born British citizen Edna Adan is the first Somali woman to have studied in the UK. She subsequently became her Somali homeland’s first-ever qualified nurse and midwife. Over the course of her career, Ms Adan has performed a variety of roles for the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2002, she founded the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, in the north of Somaliland, with the intention of improving the health of the local population and reducing the region’s high rate of maternal and infant mortality. Ms Adan went on to become Somaliland’s Minister of Family Welfare and Social Development, before serving as Foreign Minister from 2003 to 2006. In 2012, she founded Edna Adan University – a teaching centre for nurses, midwives and medical students, among others. Ms Adan is an activist and pioneer in the struggle to end female genital mutilation. She has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of her work.

Panel: Access to medicines

Project “Medicines for Malaria Venture”

© Novartis Foundation

Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation

Ann Aerts holds a degree in medicine and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Leuven, Belgium, as well as a degree in tropical medicine from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. Ms Aerts, who has written numerous publications and is a member of various organisations, began her professional career in 1991 as a district health officer in Angola. She also worked as an emergency physician in several African countries. Before taking on various roles at Novartis, she served as Head of the Health Services Department of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Ms Aerts is now Head of the Novartis Foundation, an organisation whose objective is to improve access to healthcare for people around the world and eliminate diseases such as malaria and leprosy.


David Reddy, CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture

Before becoming CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in January 2011, David Reddy was a vice-president at Basel-based pharmaceutical company Roche. In addition to specialist scientific knowledge, he has 20 years of management experience in the healthcare industry. Mr Reddy, who holds a PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, completed a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular neurobiology at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel. Medicines for Malaria Venture was established as a non-profit foundation in 1999 with the objective of discovering, developing and facilitating access to new antimalarial drugs. MMV is committed to eliminating and eradicating malaria in countries where it is prevalent.

Alexander Schulze
Alexander Schulze © SDC

Alexander Schulze, Advisor Health Systems Strengthening and Financing, SDC

Alexander Schulze is a specialist advisor on global health at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Prior to taking up this position, he worked at the Novartis Foundation. He is active in various areas of health, such as access to healthcare, social health protection or health financing. Mr Schulze, who holds a PhD, was born in Germany, where he studied development studies and social anthropology, before completing part of his academic training in Norway and then doing a postgraduate course on developing countries at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ). Prior to taking up this position at the SDC, he worked at the Novartis Foundation.

Keynote speech

© Gapminder

Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Hans Rosling is Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He is also co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, the venture that developed Trendalyzer – a software programme that converts international statistics into animated graphics. Mr Rosling, who is an expert in public health and holds a PhD, worked as a doctor in northern Mozambique. In 1981, he discovered an outbreak of konzo, a paralytic disease on which he then spent 20 years of research in rural Africa. He also co-founded the Swedish branch of Médecins Sans Frontières and has served as an advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

Panel: Access to information for young people

Project “Youth-friendly health services” – Moldova

© Medicus Mundi Suisse/Schweiz

Erika Placella, SDC health specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

After graduating with a master’s degree in history and geography, Erika Placella made public health her specialisation. Her subsequent qualifications include certification in this field at the University of Geneva. Ms Placella has been the health advisor for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the SDC since January 2014. She is also a consultant to various organisations including UNHCR. Ms Placella was Head of International Programmes at Médecins du Monde Switzerland from 2011 to 2013.

Panel: Access to healthcare

Project “Accessible health insurance for all” – Tanzania

Jacqueline Matoro
Jacqueline Matoro © Jacqueline Matoro

Jacqueline Matoro, SDC health specialist, Tanzania

Besides earning a master’s degree in public health from the University of London, Jacqueline Matoro graduated in Ireland with a master’s degree in development studies. Ms Matoro has performed the role of health specialist for Tanzania since 2004. She has over 15 years of professional experience in the healthcare sector. Before joining the SDC, she was head of projects in relation to a number of USAID-led programmes in Tanzania, notably in areas such as HIV and social responsibility.

© Susanne Amsler

Susanne Amsler, SDC global health specialist

Before specialising in global health through various forms of training, Susanne Amsler earned a master’s degree in social sciences at the University of Lausanne. Ms Amsler began her career assisting and collaborating in projects based in Mali, in Tanzania and in Switzerland. From 2009 to 2011, she worked as a UN junior project manager in Zanzibar, Tanzania.  On her return to Switzerland, she became Programme Officer for the Eastern and Southern Africa Division of the SDC.

Ntuli Angyelile Kapologwe
Ntuli Angyelile Kapologwe © Ntuli Angyelile Kapologwe

Ntuli Angyelile Kapologwe, regional medical officer, Tanzania

Ntuli Angyelile Kapologwe graduated from Tumaini University, Tanzania, with a master’s degree in public health. From 2013 to 2015, Mr Kapologwe studied at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in Basel, Switzerland, where he earned an MBA in international health management. Since February 2014, he has held the position of regional medical officer in Shinyanga, central-north Tanzania. From 2010 to 2014, he served as district medical officer for Bahi district, near the capital Dodoma. Mr Kapologwe also works on a number of committees at national and international level.

Closing address


Manuel Sager, Ambassador, SDC Director-General

Manuel Sager earned a PhD in law at the University of Zurich and a master’s degree in law in the United States. He began his diplomatic career at the FDFA in 1988. In 1993, he took over the International Humanitarian Law Section at the Directorate of International Law (DIL), before moving on to various posts in Switzerland and the United States. In particular he served as executive director, with the title of ambassador, at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 2005 to 2008, then as Swiss ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2014. Mr Sager has been the director-general of the SDC since November 2014.