Anna Maalsen

Anna Maalsen
Country Team Leader, Health Systems
My experience and deep interests:
I am based in: Waigani
Other projects and organizations include:  Susu Mamas PNG Inc
THNK connection: THNKer , AMS Class 14

I am an Australian, from west of Brisbane.

My parents travel stories around the dinner table from Europe, South Africa and Sri Lanka in the 70’s, sparked my wanderlust and shaped my interest in global affairs. My itchy-feet led me to say yes to a year in Papua New Guinea in 2007 as part of the Australian Aid program. That year turned into many more and was the catalyst for developing my passion for health systems and systems thinking.

I have lived and worked in various capacities in the Asia Pacific Region including Laos, Viet Nam, Mongolia, Philippines and several Pacific Island States to scale up public health programs, introduce new life-saving medicines and technologies, support major health sector reform, strengthen governance and planning, and prepare for transition from donor-financing. I have supported several countries to access multi-million dollar grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Driven by a desire to be more actively involved in community work to balance my policy-level work, I have been a non-executive director for the not-for-profit organisation, Susu Mamas PNG Inc. In this role, I guided the reorientation of the organisation - from a small organisation focused on breastfeeding support for mothers, to an organisation that now provides free primary health care services to over 130,000 women and girls, men and boys annually.

As global health challenges become more complex but more interconnected it requires collective creativity, and I want to work and collaborate with other sectors, organizations and communities to be able to drive this change to improve health. This requires skills that are not just through technical knowledge-based learning, and it requires creativity if there are to be significant institutional shifts in how the global health community works today. Through the THNK program, I hope I’ll be able to develop my skills to work towards this goal.

In the periods between the THNK program, you’ll find me giving my new titanium hip a workout, walking, standup paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and generally enjoying a new pain-free, active lifestyle that living in the beautiful Pacific allows.

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