Dr. Wilco Zijlmans
Head of Scientific Research Center Suriname
Dr Wilco Zijlmans completed his medical training at the Nijmegen University Center and fulfilled his residency in pediatrics at the Emma Children’s Hospital / Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Starting in 1998 he worked as a pediatrician at the Diakonessen Hospital in Paramaribo, Suriname, until his transfer to the Pediatric Center of the Academic Hospital Paramaribo (AZP) in 2013. In addition to his position at the AZP, he remains a consultant for the Medical Mission, an initiative that provides Primary Health Care for the Amerindian and Marroon people living in the interior and for the District Hospital of Nickerie in West Suriname. The integration of studies conducted on glucose metabolism in children with malaria and severe pneumonia combined with his work in general pediatrics resulted in his PhD thesis ‘Infectious disease-related differences in the adaptation of glucose metabolism to fasting in children and the effect of age’ at the University of Amsterdam in 2009.
Since its inauguration in 2013, Dr Zijlmans is the Director and principal founder of the Research Center (RC) of the AZP. Representing one of the fundamental pillars of the AZP, the RC contributes to the AZP’s transition in becoming a national and regional Academic Medical Center. The RC was established in collaboration with the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Anton de Kom University of Suriname. The main strategic objectives of the RC are to initiate, facilitate and conduct medical research, offer specific research-related training and courses for persons and institutes, and establish new collaborations and strengthen existing ones in the region and worldwide. A fine example is the recently (2014) established Caribbean Consortium for Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (CCREOH) built upon the transdisciplinary partnerships among Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the Research Center of the AZP, and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Faculty of Medical Sciences. This partnership resulted in the application of a combined research and training grant that primarily aims to assess the impact of exposures to neurotoxicants on maternal and child health in Suriname by biomarker monitoring in pregnant women and their offspring.
Dr Zijlmans is a lecturer at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the Anton the Kom University of Suriname and has recently been appointed as a member of its Examination Committee. He participates in pediatric training programs and protocols for the AZP and for the Medical Mission, and furthermore serves as external tutor of Master in Public Health students at the Institute for Graduate Studies and Research, Anton de Kom University of Suriname.
He holds a number of board memberships such as of the National Committee Drug Registration, is appointed coordinator of the care for HIV-infected children by the Surinamese Board of Pediatricians and is a member of the Technical Working Group Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission in Suriname. He is also a member of the Global Child Health Group of the Emma Children's Hospital AMC / Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Anisma Gokoel holds a Master's degree in Health Care Management, which was obtained at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. As a health researcher at the Research Center she is involved in multiple public health studies, such as: the study patient satisfaction at different out-patient departments of AZP, evaluation of waiting times of patients at the pharmacy and the out-patient departments of AZP, the study of employment satisfaction, palliative care etc. Her research areas of interest vary from quality of life and health behavior, to improving the quality of the health care. She is also involved in recruitment of pregnant women and their offspring within the Meki Tamara project and will enter its PhD program.
Shellice Sairras holds a Master in Biomedical Science with a specialization in Cardiovascular Research, obtained at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and is appointed as research assistant at the SRCS. Her interest lies in translational research with a special focus on ethnicity and gender differences.
Firoz Abdoel Wahid
I graduated as a family physician from the Anton de Kom University of Suriname (ADEKUS) in 2005 and as Master’s in Public Health at the Institute of Graduate Studies and Research (IGSR, ADEKUS) in 2012. I have over 10-year experience in public health - the last 5 of which in environmental health -, and as a native of Suriname and having worked in my country of origin, I have firsthand experience of Suriname’s healthcare status and related threats and opportunities. My public health career started in 2005 as the clinical coordinator of the National AIDS Program (NAP), Ministry of Health in Suriname, in which position I initiated the treatment of people living with HIV with anti-retroviral therapy at a national level. I was responsible for both treatment and prevention of HIV and I have trained all frontline healthcare workers in the clinical management of HIV, including a tailored approach towards vulnerable groups. Under my leadership important strides have been made, such as the decrease in the incidence of HIV. Driven by the emerging environmental health threats in my home country, and in line with the shift of the global burden of disease from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), my career interests transformed from frontline practice to research. Accordingly, I started a PhD research in environmental health in 2012 and pursued my doctorate in 2018 at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (SPHTM), New Orleans, USA. As part of my environmental health dissertation, I have conducted research on exposure to pesticides in Suriname, supported by the Caribbean Consortium for Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (CCREOH) that is focused on the impact of neurotoxicant exposure on neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral disorders in 1000 mother/child dyads (U2RTW010104; U01TW010087). The focus of my dissertation research was the association of dietary exposure to pesticides with adverse health effects, especially in pregnant Surinamese women. I am the first PhD-trained environmental health scientist in Suriname and I am committed to strengthen the public health workforce and research capacity in my country of descent.
Esther holds a Bachelors’s degree in Social Work and Services. She has been involved in Health projects in Suriname for 11 years. Her many years of project management have given her expertise in the fields of Health development, program and process evaluation, social and policy research, developmental services and grant writing. As the focal point of the SRCS she represents the SRCS at the stakeholders, supervises the performance of the SRCS team members and ensure that projects are executed according to the guidelines.
Drs. Sigrid MacDonald - Ottevanger
Senior Research Coordinator
Sigrid Mac Donald - Ottevanger obtained her medical degree at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam in 2006, and has been involved in research since 2008. As of 2013 she is assistant coordinator of the Research Center. Her main focus is in the field of Infectiology, specifically HIV and neglected infectious diseases as Histoplasmosis and Chagas. When not involved in Research, she can be found enjoying the rivers of Suriname's beautiful interior.