Dr. Keith Martin practiced emergency medicine on the Mozambique/South Africa border in
the midst of civil war and founded the first all-party Conservation Caucus in the Canadian Parliament. He brings together universities, governments, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to benefit people and the ecosystem.
On April 8, Martin, the executive director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), delivers the keynote presentation at the Global Health Symposium 2015: Advancing Health in an Interconnected World. Hosted by the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the symposium begins at 4:30 p.m. Martin’s talk will be followed by oral and poster presentations of UW global health projects. It is free and open to all.
“Dr. Martin’s passion for improving health for all inspires us to find new ways to work together for a healthier world,” says GHI Acting Director Christopher Olsen. “With his experience as a physician and nearly 20 years in the Canadian Parliament, Dr. Martin’s unique perspective informs the work we are doing in important ways.”
Bees, Bats and Buffalo
In “Bees, Bats and Buffalo: Bringing One Health to Global Challenges,” Martin will explore the intersection of animal, environmental and human health. He also will challenge universities to evolve in their global health work, connecting the products of research to an equal passion for implementing those solutions.
“The university role today is more important than ever, particularly in the communication of the problem, the communication of the solution and having the ability to build capacity and engage in service. The advantage will be with those who embrace evidence-based solutions to make countries safer, freer and more vibrant with people who are safe and secure. It’s a race to the top.” —Keith Martin, executive director CUGH
Universities store, create and share knowledge. They educate students and have access to the public. By implementing practical projects, universities open opportunities for more research and funding and new opportunities for faculty and students while they help improve health for all, Martin says.
Look, for example, at non-communicable diseases, which will have a greater impact than infectious disease on people’s lives. School exercise programs can address obesity and improve health outcomes and the ability to learn. By partnering with schools to implement exercise programs, universities open new opportunities for research—how to scale up the program, measure outcomes, ensure sustainability and more, Martin says. At the same time, they will make a difference in children’s lives forever.
From physician to activist: A natural connection
Martin’s passion for global health grew from his work as a physician.
“Global health is really about the well-being of people on our planet,” Martin says. “I’ve been very lucky to be in medicine as a profession. It gives you a chance to see people’s lives in a very intimate way in a way few professions can do.”
Delivering babies, providing primary and emergency care, working with the homeless and with prisoners in settings from rural South Africa to British Columbia, propelled Martin into politics. “The big issues that face vulnerable people are the same across Canada and around the world,” he says.
He served as a member of Parliament in Canada’s House of Commons from 1993 to 2011, working to implement known solutions that would prevent harm and reduce suffering. “In politics, the dream is to connect knowledge and need,” he says. “The current (political) environment does not lend itself to that.”
While in Parliament, Martin held shadow ministerial portfolios in foreign affairs, international development and health. He also served as Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary for Defense. He is particularly interested in building and retaining capacity in low-income settings and scaling up proven interventions that will improve environmental and human security.
Martin was named executive director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health in 2013. The Consortium includes 120 academic institutes from around the world that address global health challenges through a multi-faceted lens. It focuses on improving health outcomes for people in low-resource settings.
“It would be nice to have government on board, but it’s not necessary. A huge impact can be made at the community level. Huge changes can occur through social networks, and universities have an even greater role to play.”—Keith Martin, executive director CUGH
The Global Health Institute connects faculty, staff, students and communities locally and globally to address the complex determinants of health and disease for people, animals and ecosystems. The Institute is supported by public and private funding. To learn more, visit ghi.wisc.edu. You may also make a gift online.
By Ann Grauvogl/ Feb. 2, 2015