This is the first article in a Question & Answer series with World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) leaders. Today we hear the thoughts and opinions of Eric Stolte, Vice President, Finance for the WFH.
How did you get involved with the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH)?
My very first involvement with the WFH was at the Hemophilia 2000 World Congress in Montreal, Canada. I was a volunteer for the Congress with the Canadian Hemophilia Society (CHS). I was overwhelmed with the need [for hemophilia care] around the world, meeting people from countries which had little or no care.
I immediately explored the possibility of a Twinning partnership between the Saskatchewan chapter of the CHS (I was President of the chapter at the time) and Mongolia. In 2001, I was part of a three person team who traveled to Mongolia for the assessment visit. I also become Chair of the CHS International Projects Committee—we had taken our share of the surplus from the Congress and dedicated it to bringing additional support for CHS’ involvement in the WFH Twinning Program.
In 2002, I attended the WFH Global National Member Organization Training (GNMOT) in Seville, Spain, and have been attending WFH congresses ever since. I became President of the CHS in 2004 and thus was the delegate for Hemophilia 2004 World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Congress President representing the host National Member Organization (NMO) for the Hemophilia 2006 World Congress in Vancouver, Canada. In 2008 I ran (but lost) for Lay Member, but was co-opted. The rest is history!
What makes you proud to be part of the WFH?
There are a number of things which make me proud, but one of the main things is the exemplary dedication of the volunteers. They give their time, treasure, and talent unreservedly and with no small sacrifice. Our staff are also deeply engaged in helping people with bleeding disorders and have exceptional hearts. They all inspire me to give my best as a volunteer.
What do you think is the main impact the WFH has had in recent years?
Increasing Treatment for All, the vision of the WFH. Each year, more people are diagnosed and there is an increase in treatment products that are available. Certainly, our continuing expansion of the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program is a huge move forward in providing a reliable and sustainable donation of clotting factor concentrates for countries in need.
What is the main impact you hope the WFH will have in the future?
I would like to see the figure of 75% of people with bleeding disorders who have no or little access to care being reduced significantly. This is surely the most pressing need!
What do you think is one area where the WFH could improve?
The WFH is truly excellent in so many areas. However, we’ve always been weak in fundraising from the public (compared to funding from companies). We must work on developing our Major Donor program.
Next to your involvement with the WFH Board, what is your personal involvement in the bleeding disorders community in your country or region?
I attend several events of the South West Ontario Region of Hemophilia Ontario which is my local chapter. I also serve on several committees of the CHS and am part of the current Twinning between CHS and the Hemophilia Society of Bangladesh.
If you had $1 million to donate to the bleeding disorders community, where would you like to see your donation go?
Probably to the WFH Cornerstone Initiative. I believe that these countries are neglected by the pharmaceutical industry as they have so little potential—at least today—for generating more product sales. These people desperately need our help.
To read about how other WFH leaders answered these questions, please click here.