Speakers Biography

Mr. Jonathan Abrahams 

Disaster Risk Management Focal Point, Country Health Emergency Preparedness and International Health Regulations Department, World Health Organisation (WHO)

Mr. Jonathan Abrahams is the WHO disaster risk management focal point in the Country Health Emergency Preparedness and International Health Regulations Department at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme in WHO, Geneva. He has responsibility for coordinating WHO’s work on health emergency and disaster risk management (EDRM) at a global level and has been playing this role in various positions since 2008. As the WHO focal point for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Mr. Abrahams provided advocacy and advice on public health to Member States for the negotiation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 that puts health at the centre of global, national and community action on all-hazard disaster risk management. He collaborates with WHO colleagues and partners on all-hazards health EDRM programmes, technical guidance and networks, including safer hospitals, climate change, community preparedness and WHO’s thematic platform on Health-EDRM. Mr. Abrahams provides support to WHO Regional and Country Offices and partners for assessing and strengthening the capacity of countries and communities
to manage health risks of emergencies, disasters and other crises. He has been the author and editor of many articles, technical guidance and learning packages in the EDRM field and business continuity planning.
Before joining WHO, Mr. Abrahams was Director, Public Health in Emergencies, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Thailand, from 2005-2008 where he worked with WHO partners to strengthen capacities of countries of the Western Pacific region. He has worked with Emergency Management Australia, AusAID’s Humanitarian and Emergency Response Unit and the health programme of the Australian Health-EDRM Department of Veterans' Affairs. Mr. Abrahams holds qualifications in health and emergency management and received the WADEM President’s Award in 2017 as recognition of his contribution to the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine and to the field of disaster health.

Professor Emily Ying-Yang Chan 

Centre Director, Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC)

Prof. Emily Ying-Yang Chan serves as Professor and Assistant Dean, Faculty of Medicine, and Associate Director, JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). She is Director of the Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC), the Centre for Global Health (CGH) and the International Centre of Excellence (ICoE-CCOUC) of Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR). She concurrently serves as Visiting Professor, Oxford University Nuffield Department of Medicine, Honorary Professor, Li Ka
Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Senior Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and Visiting Scholar, FXB Center, Harvard University.

Her research interests include disaster and humanitarian medicine, climate change and health, global and planetary health, human health security and Health-EDRM, remote rural health, ethnic minority health, injury and violence epidemiology, and primary care. Prof. Chan has published more than 200 international peer-reviewed academic/technical/ conference articles and had extensive experience as a frontline emergency relief practitioner in the mid-1990s that spanned across 20 countries.

Professor Virginia Murray 

Head of Global Disaster Risk Reduction, Public Health England

Prof. Virginia Murray qualified in medicine and has extensive experience in health protection by being actively involved in chemical and extreme event incident preparedness, response and recovery. Currently she is Head of Global Disaster Risk Reduction for Public Health England where she has been actively engaged in providing health, science and technology support for the development and implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, one of the three 2015 UN landmark agreements via international networks addressing implementation science in data related activities such as the Data project of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) and the disaster risk reduction flagship project for the Committee on Data of the International Council for Science (CODATA). Through appointments as Visiting Professor in Health Protection, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College and King’s College, London, Honorary Professor at University College London, visiting professor to the United Nations University International Institute on Global Health and Adjunct Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Murray has published widely on the intersection of health and disasters.

Dr. Ryoma Kayano

Technical Officer, WHO Kobe Centre

Dr. Ryoma Kayano is a Technical Officer at the WHO Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe
Centre), a policy research center of WHO Headquarter, Kobe, Japan. He joined WHO in 2015,
following his career as an assistant professor of Center for International Collaborative Research and Medical University Research Administrator, Nagasaki University. He works as a focal point of health emergencies, in charge of liaison for national and local government and support for public health programmes for disaster risk management in Japan, and research coordination on natural disaster risk management for health. He has contributed to the development of WHO Emergency Medical Team Minimum Data Set and development of the supplementary edition of the International Recovery Platform Guidance Note on Recovery: Health. Dr. Kayano also has coordinated several policy research projects on Health-EDRM including policy gap analysis on long-term psychosocial management for disaster survivors in Japan. His career on Health-EDRM started in 2011 through the Tokyo Metropolitan Disaster Relief Team activity for the victims of Great East Japan Earthquake. Given his clinical training in psychiatry, he also coordinates WHO Kobe Centre’s research on dementia, mental health and other research topics to address Universal Health Coverage in the context of global demographic change.

Dr. Alistair Humphrey

Medical Officer of Health for Canterbury, New Zealand Ministry of Health/ Canterbury District Health Board

Dr. Alistair Humphrey is a public health physician and family doctor in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is the Medical Officer of Health for Canterbury, designated by and responsible to the Director General of the Ministry of Health. Medical Officers of Health are senior public health physicians responsible for legislative aspects of health in a region, particularly with respect to environmental health and communicable disease. Dr. Humphrey is also a member of the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team which has been deployed to assist with a number of emergencies around the Pacific Region.

Dr. Humphrey has worked with the WHO and other UN groups, including the UNISDR, the Towards a Safer World (TASW) group, the One Health/Global Risk Forum, the Asia-Europe Foundation Public Health network and BBC Media Action.

Dr. Humphrey was trained in Scotland (St. Andrews) and England (Manchester) before moving to New Zealand and Australia, where he completed his Master of Public Health at Monash University. He has also completed a Master of Health Law at the University of Sydney. He has held a post as an epidemiologist with the International Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia where he carried out research into diabetes and other non-communicable diseases in Mauritius, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Tasmania. He has also worked with Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia in both a clinical and public health capacity and a consultant physician in East London, England.

Dr. Humphrey holds a senior lectureship post at the University of Otago Medical School. He has been made a fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian College of Rural Medicine and a member of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Professor Andrew Collins

Professor of Disaster and Development, Northumbria University

Prof. Andrew Collins is Professor in Disaster and Development with the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences where he is also subject leader for human geography, policy and development. He gained his PhD from King’s College London in Human Geography in 1996 and first class BSc (Hons) from Kingston University in 1992.

Prior to the above, Prof. Collins worked for extended periods in Africa and the Middle-East including voluntary service. He has led the establishment of the world’s first disaster management and sustainable development postgraduate programme launched in 2000, and currently the Disaster and Development Network (DDN) (formerly the DDC) launched in 2004. Related projects and international links include through supervision of a community of PhD, postdoctoral and active affiliates with research grounded both in local level hazard and vulnerability mitigation and higher-level  policy and advisory challenges.

Beyond his regular research, teaching and management responsibilities, Prof. Collins represents disaster, development and health related initiatives internationally, including through being an Elected Co-Chair of UK Alliance for Disaster Research, an Elected Chair of Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes, and an Elected Chair of Enhanced Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) Steering Committee.


Ms. Gloria Kwong-Wai Chan

Deputy Director, Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC)

Ms. Gloria Chan is a seasoned practitioner in emergency risk communication and public policy. Being trained as a professional journalist, she had experience in political news, human rights and humanitarian affairs reporting. She later joined an international medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, as the Director of Communications. Her communication expertise was employed in the frontline for a number of humanitarian emergencies over the world. Before joining CCOUC, she was the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Medical Association. Ms. Chan is currently the Deputy Director of the Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC) and is serving as the Secretary of the WHO Thematic Platform for Health-EDRM Research Network.

Dr. Nevio Zagaria 

Country Representative in Yemen, World Health Organization

Dr. Nevio Zagaria is a medical doctor from Italy with a Masters Degree in Public Health and Postgraduate Degree in Emergency Medicine and Paediatrics. Dr. Zagaria has 32 years of international working experience. His initial 10 years were spent working with international NGOs in developing and implementing humanitarian health projects, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Later, he spent 2 years as a senior public health advisor of the Italian National Health Institute for the humanitarian health programmes of the Italian Cooperation in Ruanda, Bosnia, and Albania.

Dr. Zagaria has then been working with Word Health Organization, first deployed as an Emergency Health Coordinator in Angola, then in WHO Geneva as a coordinator of global eradication and elimination initiatives, and the strategic development of the Neglected Diseases Initiative. Between 2004 and 2012, he held several senior positions in WHO Geneva in the Health Action in Crisis Cluster, contributing to the implementation of the humanitarian reform, and the transformative agenda, and as Director a.i. of the Emergency Operations. He then moved to WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila as a Coordinator of Disaster Risk Management for Health, during which he led the response of the major disasters in the Region, including the level 3 humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. He developed and finalised the Regional Framework of Disaster Risk Management for Health, and prioritised on scaling up the Safe Hospitals initiative, and the national capacities to coordinate and set national and international emergency medical teams in priority countries in the region.

Dr. Zagaria is currently appointed as the WHO Country Representative in Yemen, leading one of the major WHO humanitarian response at the moment, with a Country Office of around 200 national and international staff, and an unprecedented financial availability for the implementation of the humanitarian and transitional agenda for the 2017 – 2020 period.

Professor May Pui-Shan Yeung

Assistant Professor, The Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese
University of Hong Kong

Prof. May Pui-Shan Yeung is a medical doctor specialising in public health medicine. She obtained her Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and fellowships of the UK Faculty of Public Health and Hong Kong College of Community Medicine. Before joining The Chinese University of Hong Kong JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, she worked in the Department of Health in Hong Kong on emergency response and planning, infectious disease control, vaccination programming, and maternal and child care service. Her interest is on health systems, responses to emergency and disasters, medical humanitarian assistance and cancer screening. She joined various public health volunteer services including the Ebola mission in Liberia, community health and hygiene education programme in China Qinghai Yushu and train-the-trainer programme in Philippines Manila slum area. She was an Honorary Medical Officer in the Hospital Authority during Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003.

Dr. Elizabeth Newnham

Research Fellow, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University; FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University

Dr. Elizabeth Newnham is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at Curtin University. Her central research focus is child and adolescent mental health in adverse environments, including conflict, disaster, and migration settings. She has led research in China, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Australia. After completing her Master of Psychology and PhD at The University of Western Australia, Dr. Newnham undertook postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University and the University of Oxford. She is a Fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and a CCOUC Regional Fellow at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Newnham is Principal Investigator of the Study on Adolescent Resilience After Disasters, a multinational collaborative investigation of adolescent mental health in Asia. More than 4,200 adolescents in China and Nepal have participated in the Study, which aims to examine psychological mechanisms, security risks and mental health outcomes for youth affected by disasters. 

In Australia, Dr. Newnham leads a research programme on the mental health consequences of displacement and resettlement among people of refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds. Building on a long-standing collaboration with the Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS), the programme aims to provide tangible improvements in evidence-based care and policy for people affected by severe trauma.

Dr. Newnham’s work has been recognized by a number of prestigious grants and awards, including an Australian Psychological Society Award and an NHMRC Sidney Sax Early Career Research Fellowship. In 2010 Dr. Newnham was the inaugural recipient of the American Australian Association Paediatrics Fellowship. 

Dr. Niall Winters

Associate Professor of Learning and New Technologies, The University of Oxford

Dr. Niall Winters is an Associate Professor of Learning and New Technologies at the Department of Education, The University of Oxford where he is also a Fellow of Kellogg College. His main research interest is in understanding how educational interventions can help to address inequality, especially for people who are marginalised, by focusing on how technology can support the strengthening of education and training capacity, particularly in health. More specifically, Dr. Winters works to design, develop and evaluate technology enhanced learning (TEL) interventions that support the professional development of learning practitioners, primarily healthcare workers in low- and middle-income countries. He is motivated by the need to improve TEL intervention design to provide new insights into learning practices, in support of equitable access to educational opportunity.

Dr. Selina Lo

Consulting Editor, The Lancet

Dr. Selina Lo is a medical doctor and an experienced senior global health professional. She is currently the Consulting Editor to The Lancet medical journal and Executive Officer for Doctors for the Environment Australia. She has worked in the peer review medical publishing industry, government advisory and non-profit sectors.

Dr. Lo graduated from the University of Melbourne, School of Medicine in 1993, and later trained in tropical medicine and hygiene in London and clinical HIV AIDS. She also has a post-graduate degree in international and public law from the University of Melbourne. From 2010 Dr. Lo has been a senior editor at The Lancet. Based in London and Beijing, she specialised in child health and
led global health commissions, including the Rockefeller Lancet Planetary Health and Climate Change and Health Countdown reports. She will also take up an honorary role at the University of Sydney's newly launched Planetary Health Platform.

Past positions include Medical Director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors without Borders, MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines in Geneva, and as clinical advisor to the Clinton HIV AIDS Initiative (CHAI), where she was seconded to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between 1996 and 2005 Dr. Lo led various MSF medical humanitarian projects for refugee and vulnerable populations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China.

Ms. Carol Ka-Po Wong

Programme Manager, Collaborating Centre for Oxford University and CUHK for Disaster and Medical Humanitarian Response (CCOUC)

Ms. Carol Ka-Po Wong is a journalist by training and has acquired Master's Degrees in Public Health, as well as International and Public Affairs. Her areas of interest include building age-friendly communities especially in rural settings, community empowerment and resilience building. She has years of project management experience in NGOs in Hong Kong and overseas, with a focus on public health and disaster response management. Before joining CCOUC, Ms. Wong had stationed in the Philippines for more than two years, where her work in the field particularly focused on slum health and disaster preparedness. This comprises preventive health, nutrition and WASH, which enables her to accumulate a wide range of practical experience in these areas.

Dr. Helen K Green

Public Health Registrar, Global Disaster Risk Reduction, Public Health England
Dr. Helen K Green is an epidemiologist currently being trained in public health in the UK. She has worked in infectious disease and mortality surveillance nationally and internationally, including consulting for UNICEF and WHO. Her interests and areas of work focus on translating data into public health action, exploring the utility of big data and technology in healthcare, and global health. She is currently involved in reviewing the potential of big data for health surveillance and the role of mortality data in disaster risk reduction, with consideration of its definition, calculation
and interpretation.