Dr. Mark Keim, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a respected expert in disaster risk reduction as applied to health. He is driven by the view that, while many sectors of society have succeeded in mainstreaming disaster risk reduction principles, challenges abound when it comes to applying these principles to health promotion. His goal is to focus not merely on the health impacts of disasters – deaths, injury and illness – but also to tackle their root causes by reducing exposure and vulnerability. He has helped create key theoretical benchmarks which can be employed and communicated via practical application, and thereby helped develop policies to make these best practices sustainable.
Starting in 1999, Keim led several preparedness projects in eastern Africa and by 2002, had published the first article of what has become a solid body of work on disaster risk reduction and health. Also in 1999, he founded the Pacific Emergency Health Initiative, dedicated to reducing disaster risk in 22 developing nations of the Pacific basin. And in 2004, he founded two Pacific Health Summits for Sustainable Disaster Risk Management, attended by health ministers from 18 Pacific island developing states and territories. The resultant 10-year plan represented the world’s first coordinated regional strategy for disaster risk management as applied to public health. For the past eight years, Keim has served on the White House Subcommittee for Disaster Reduction and as a delegate to the Global Platforms on Disaster Reduction, and is bracing to attend the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015. He has also thrown the spotlight on the growing links between climate change and human health, and in 2010 published one of the world’s first scientific publications documenting the impacts among Pacific populations. He subsequently served as a as a review editor for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special reports on managing the risks of extreme events, and is now working on the US National Climate Assessment report. Keim is also a regular speaker for the Global Risk Network, a forum for Global Fortune 500 companies to manage disaster risk.
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