Mourning the dead on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

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World has lost a tireless advocate, among many others, says GAVI Alliance CEO

Geneva, 20 July 2014 - It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of my friend Joep Lange who, along with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, is believed to be among the dead of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Joep and Jacqueline were en route to Melbourne to attend the 20th International AIDS conference (AIDS 2014), along with numerous other delegates, including Glenn Thomas of the World Health Organization, when their plane crashed in Ukraine, killing all on board. Joep and I worked closely together during his tenure as President of the International AIDS Society, and while I was leading the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative he was a much-valued member of its Scientific Advisory Committee.

In Joep the world has lost a great leader and a tireless advocate in the battle against HIV and AIDS, and in MH17 the world should mourn not just the 298 souls onboard, but also the irreplaceable knowledge and expertise that was lost with them.

The depths of this, and the full impact on global health, will never truly be known, but one thing is clear: this tragedy will be felt far beyond the fields of Grabovo. My thoughts and condolences are with Joep’s family and friends, and the families and friends of all of those aboard flight MH17.

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