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Aaron Blaakman

'96 MPA
International Health Economist


Aaron Blaakman is an international health economist consultant. As an international health economist consultant he works for various organizations that support developing countries on issues related to health economics/financing and health systems development. Over the past five years, Blaakman has had the opportunity to work for organizations including the World Bank, World Health Organization, European Union, U.S. Agency for International Development, UK Department for International Development, and the Asian Development Bank.

A typical day for Blaakman would include meetings with the Ministries of Health and international development partners, conducting site visits in remote areas, generating analyses and writing reports, or flying in the Emirates A380. Blaakman is currently working on and leading health financing projects in Kenya, Lao PDR, Libya, Mongolia, Somalia, and Yemen. His work in Libya focuses on supporting the establishment of the Department of Health Financing Affairs in the Ministry of Health. In Lao PDR, he works with the Ministry of Health to establish a 10-year national health financing strategy. In Somalia and Yemen, he is responsible for establishing the building blocks for health financing development.

Prior to his position as health economist consultant, Blaakman had the opportunity of working in countries such as Bangladesh, Republic of Congo/Brazzaville, Mauritius, and Tajikistan. His work in each country required his adaption to the country and cultural context to effectively do his job. Through his work he was able to build many relationships with local counterparts and he sees this as an accomplishment in many ways.

In 2010, Blaakman had the opportunity of supporting the establishment of the Health Economics and Financing Directorate in Afghanistan, conducting a study-tour in Rwanda with a group of government officials from Laos, navigating field visits in southern Mindanao, Philippines, and flying in commercial aircraft approximately 800 hours. This to date is one of his most notable accomplishments, in his opinion. Additionally, he facilitated for two Lao officials from the Ministry of Health and Finance to attend the late Dr. Bill Duncombe's course on Public Budgeting that year. This was an exceptionally memorable course for him and much needed in Laos.

Maxwell provided Blaakman with the fundamentals, the core skill set in public management, budgeting, finance and organization, which many public and private organizations strive to achieve. Some of his favorite professors included Bill Duncombe, Bernard Jump, and Ron Sanders. The best courses in his opinion were public budgeting and the capstone seminar, the format of which he continues to apply in various country workshops.

During his time at Maxwell, Blaakman received the University Fellowship Award from Syracuse University and the Mark and Pearle Clements Scholarship Award to conduct an internship in South Korea. Blaakman is grateful to have received both financial awards and even stated, “These funds undoubtedly provided me the seeds to make the contributions that I am able to make today.” His advice to current Maxwell students it to build a relationship inside and outside of Maxwell. He believes if you work hard, you will be rewarded.

Blaakman graduated from Fordham University in 1991 with a bachelor of arts in economics. In 1996, he graduated from Syracuse University with a dual master’s degree in public administration from the Maxwell School and social work from Falk College. Working on a dual degree was challenging for him, but Blaakman believes it was well worth it. Blaakman obtained his doctorate in social policy/health economics in 2006 from Brandeis University.