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In Memoriam: Adam Wagstaff
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Adam Wagstaff
3 May 1959 – 10 May 2020
iHEA President 2016 – 2017

iHEA is deeply saddened by the death of Adam Wagstaff on 10 May. Our sincere condolences to Pierella, Benedict and Lilli. We wanted to create a space for people to share their memories and tributes to Adam, so please submit these below. (note: submissions can take some time to be posted online, so will not appear immediately).



“Adam is a scholar, an original thinker, an institution builder, and most important of all, a genuine human being and wonderful friend with wits, compassion and vision. He left a vacuum that will be difficult to fill. With fond memories of our times together especially in China, Rotterdam, Asia and Oxford.”

- Winnie Yip, iHEA President

"A generation of health economists is able to think more clearly about inclusion and equity thanks to Adam."

- David Bishai, iHEA Past President

"Adam has been an example of an academic serving an idea of equity in health for a better society."

- Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas, iHEA President 2010/11

"A health economist with an amazing grasp of the key policy questions across the world and how to mobilise health economics to help find answers."

- Anne Mills, iHEA President 2012/13

"Adam is an outstanding and visionary scholar, whose work I admire immensely. What really touches my heart is his compassion for the socially disadvantaged which drives his research in equity and poverty. He has the kindest soul and is always willing to provide a timely helping hand. Adam will be remembered for the critical role he played as a president in transforming iHEA and the superb leadership he has demonstrated. I feel so honored to have worked with Adam in various collaborations, and truly miss him."

Jui-fen Rachel Lu, Chang Gung University, Taiwan

"To the best of my knowledge, no one has been a plenary speaker at iHEA congresses on more than one occasion … except for Adam, who was invited to make plenary presentations at no less than three congresses: at the first iHEA congress in Vancouver in 1996, where he and Eddy van Doorslaer presented the ECuity project (as thirty-somethings, the youngest plenary speakers in iHEA’s history); participating in a plenary panel with Bill Hsiao and Winnie Yip at the 2009 Beijing congress; and most recently presenting his and Tony Culyer’s bibliometric analysis of four decades of health economics research at the 2011 Toronto congress. This speaks volumes about Adam’s stature in the health economics community. His methodological and empirical work on equity in the financing and use of health services, started in the 1990s with Eddy, is among the most influential and policy relevant in the field, and continues to be used around the world to highlight health system inequities, advocate for equity and monitor progress in addressing inequities.

iHEA is also indebted to Adam for his leadership as President during a challenging period of transition. He transformed the governance structures, ensuring gender and regional diversity on the Board and other structures, and led the development of a sustainable association management configuration, the introduction of several innovations to promote quality improvements in congresses, and the development of a strong portfolio of activities to benefit members between congresses. He achieved all of this despite facing serious health challenges during his Presidency.

We have lost not only an exceptional health economist, but also a generous, warm and supportive colleague and friend. Hamba kakuhle Adam."

Di McIntyre, iHEA Executive Director

"Adam was a wonderful person and a great scholar. He leaves behind a profound legacy."

David Cutler, Harvard University

"Adam’s love for Pierella and their kids and his passion for fighting inequality defined him as an amazing human being. His legacy of putting the spotlight in the needs of the least among us is a badge of honor we should all aspire to."

Abdo Yazbeck

"Adam was a huge influence on the health economics discipline and a fine example of how health economics can make a difference in the "real" world."

Maria Goddard, Centre for Health Economics, York

"Adam's leadership and contributions to the health economics discipline evolution and challenges are well-known from any key stakeholder. I'm very saddened by bad news. May his positive soul RIP."

Jean-Jacques MONGBO, Commission UEMOA

"Words cannot express what the 39 years of intensive professional collaboration and close friendship with Adam have meant to me. I consider myself very privileged to have had a front row seat in watching him grow from the health economics student in York to the world renowned thought leader he has become."

Eddy Van Doorslaer, Erasmus University Rotterdam

"Adam was a great scholar, a warm person and a good friend. Within Health Economics his name will forever be associated with the pioneering work in the area of equity in the finance and delivery of health care, of which he was a co-leader at the age of only 30 years. His name will also be associated with the visionary and smooth transition of iHEA during his presidency. To me, it has been a great privilege to work with him in both academic and organizational matters - always compassionate and helpful."

Terkel Christiansen, Univ of Southern Denmark, iHEA President 2014/15

"Health economics and global health have lost a dear friend and strong defender in Adam. His humanity and camaraderie, with his superb scholarship grounded in everyday reality, make him simply irreplaceable. Rest in peace and keep bending the arc of development towards justice from above!"

Gabriel Leung, The University of Hong Kong

"Great influencer in tackling inequality in health and health outcomes around the world. My deep condolences to his family."

Hesam Ghiasvand

"Adam was rather special. He put his brilliant mind to work on problems that matter. He delivered papers at speed and dry wit even faster. He had amazing energy for work as well as a huge appetite for fun. Losing him so early is all the worse knowing that he would have continued to produce, and enjoy life, so much. His work will influence many for years to come and his life will inspire many of us."

Owen O’Donnell, Erasmus University Rotterdam

"The Health Economics Editorial Board, past and present, notes Adam's enormous contribution to the field of health economics by providing the following link: link takes you to the 242 articles in Health Economics either authored by Adam or with references to Adam's work. Adam was surely a giant in our field and will be sorely missed."

Health Economics Editorial Board

"Adam leaves an important legacy in health economics. His work provided an impetus to many areas of research. He was a superb colleague and mentor who will be missed by many. iHEA benefited enormously from his advice and leadership through the transition period and we will endeavour to live up to the high standard he set."

- Audrey Laporte, iHEA President Elect

"From our time together as postgrads in York, through his coordination of the ECuity project and his influence on iHEA, Adam was always a source of inspiration for insightful and relevant research and his ability to provide challenging and inspirational leadership, with a particular care for early career researchers and for broadening the international reach of health economics."

Andrew Jones, University of York

"Adam had a great mind and an even greater heart. He was a tireless worker whose excellent work improved the field of health economics both in scope and quality."

Jacques van der gaag

"A true inspiration to all health economists around the world . Many of us have benefited from his ideas and hardwork. He will remain a great name and influencer for years."

Sedighe Jebeli, Iran University of Medical Science

"I did not know Adam well but I have been an avid reader of his work for three decades. I enjoyed my technical and personal interactions with him in the World Bank-- both in Washington and Vietnam."

Erik Bloom, Asian Development Bank 

"One could always count on Adam for a thoughtful discussion and serious consideration of hard problems and ideas. I am grateful to have had him as a colleague at the World Bank and at iHEA. He contributed greatly to our common mission as a scholar and as a wonderful human being."

Peter Berman, University of British Columbia

"Adam was a great inspiration and helped developing our thoughts and analytically ability for explaining inequality in health and health. I have some good memories at the iHEA conference held in York, UK."

Brac James P Grant School of Public Health. BRAC U

"It is with great sadness I heard that Adam has passed away! We were in York at the same time studying Economics between 1980 and 1981. We also worked together in Lund at the Institute for Health Economics in 1982-1983. He was an excellent economist and he was always keen to help me and other economists when a subject was hard and difficult to sort out. My memory of Adam from those distant years is with joy and our many laughs."

Peter Hertzman

"Adam's careful scholarship and constructive support for junior health economists (including some of my first work on China in the wake of SARS) serve as a model and inspiration for many of us. We salute his legacy of rigorous empirical work to support evidence-based, equitable health policy."

Karen Eggleston, Stanford University 

"Adam's pathbreaking work on the economics equity and poverty transformed the way the World Bank and other development agencies spent billions of dollars to help ordinary people across the developing world. He had a profound impact on development economic in health care and social protection for the poor."

Alexander S Preker, Columbia University & Mt Sinai

"Very sad loss to the profession. Personally, I will miss his sense of humour and impish smile..."

Alistair McGuire, LSE

"Adams work on health equity was foundational. All of us and and our students will be benefiting from his work for years to come. Adam will be sorely missed."

Richard Scheffler, iHEA President 2003

"I could understand more about Health Economics after reading papers from Adam Wagstaff. We lost an excellent researcher about inequalities and it’s impact on public health and social protection. Wagstaff will be a guide and a influence to my future teaching papers."

Prof. Sergio Del Prete. ISALUD University. Arg.

"Adam Wagstaff was a terrific health economist and an extremely nice person. His PhD dissertation went way beyond my demand for health model. He gave me the opportunity to do what I love to do—commenting on work in progress. We had a great exchange, which had to be by regular mail at the time. His subsequent work on health equity and socioeconomic determinants of health was pioneering and seminal. Whenever I met him, he had a big smile on his face and was warm and friendly. I’m very sorry for our loss."

Mike Grossman, National Bureau of Economic Research

"This is such a huge loss. He was an excellent health economist and an inspiration to many of us in our early careers at the World Bank. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones."

Dr. Kelechi Ohiri, HSDF 

"I heard Adam speak on a couple of occasions and I remember being amazed about his ability to get you thinking about an issue in a way you never did before. His capacity to hold the broader picture before you while paying adequate attention to detail was remarkable. He will be sorely missed."

Karl Theodore, HEU, Centre for Health Economics 

"The lack of Adam Wagstaff will influence the health economics society in the world. This is a huge loss for health inequity researchers."

Enayatollah Homaie Rad, health economist

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The International Health Economics Association was formed to increase communication among health economists, foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems, and assist young researchers at the start of their careers.

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