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Our history

Simavi was founded in 1925 by two medical doctors, Dr. John. Van der Spek and Dr. H. Bervoets. Their aim was to provide medical assistance for health institutions in the former Dutch East Indies. Ever since then, Simavi has been working to improve standards of health in developing countries.

Simavi was an acronym for Steun Inzake Medische Aangelegenheden Voor Inheemschen (Support for Medical Affairs for Indonesians). In its early years, Simavi shipped medicines, essential health supplies and resources over the ocean to support the work of medical missionary staff. Simavi’s work soon expanded across the boundaries of the Dutch East Indies. Long before the Second World War, health workers from a variety of backgrounds and locations could apply for Simavi’s support.


95 years of experience

Over the course of our history, we’ve expanded the scale of our operations and activities. In the last ninety-five years, we have worked with over 30 million people in thousands of high-impact projects and we’re active in nine countries on two continents: Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Instead of supporting Dutch doctors we now collaborate with local initiatives: we’ve shifted from transporting medicines to working with an integrated approach on local, national and international levels. Simavi works towards a healthy life for all.  Our mission is to achieve a healthy life for all we work to ensure that disadvantaged people in low- and middle-income countries practice healthy behaviours based on their own free and informed decisions.


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