Michèle van Vugt’s research focuses on an integrated ‘community-centred’ approach to infectious tropical diseases and particularly malaria. She is involved in a number of projects in Africa and Asia which draw upon the help and efforts of the local population, health professionals, government and the university to jointly work on the sustainable reduction of the number of malaria infections as well as on the disease’s prevention and resistance. At the AMC-UvA, Van Vugt is involved in multidisciplinary education within the themes of infectious diseases and tropical and travel medicine. She also teaches elective courses.
Within tropical medicine, increasing efforts are currently being devoted to exploring whether the various components within the health system can be influenced in order to realise long-term changes, particularly in the organisational and economic spheres. The idea is that optimal control of an infectious tropical disease can only occur if the community is involved in this control from the very start. Then, in collaboration with the local community, it can be scaled up to regional, national and international level. Achieving control of infectious tropical diseases would therefore require first developing a vision within the community, and then involving the community in all subsequent phases of the implementation process as well. Van Vugt will focus on this community-centred approach in her role as professor.
Van Vugt has worked as an epidemiologist and internist specialising in infectious diseases at the AMC-UvA since 2005. She is a member of the AMC outpatient clinics board and deputy head of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship programme. She was Chief Medical Officer at PharmAccess from 2005-2009. She previously worked as a researcher and doctor at a clinic in refugee camps in Thailand.