Global Humanitarian Efforts During COVID-19


Timings: Thursday 26th August, 2pm CAT


Session Description:

The United Nations commemorates World Humanitarian Day in August, and this year’s theme is “Real Life Heroes”, whereby the international community is reminded to commemorate the lives of those at the frontline, especially those working in Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are pushing the equity agenda to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. The lack of access and restrictions placed by governments around the world has resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being on the frontline of the response.

Humanitarianism is facing many challenges from funding shortages to mobilise sufficient resources, to unpredictability of demand and suddenness of occurrences, even before being faced with the unprecedented global pandemic. Now with COVID-19, we are finding that the funding requirements within the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) were consistently less funded than other UN appeal requirements in 2020, leading to a lack of resources for many organizations. 

Join This Dynamic Discussion

This month, the #AskProfAgnes Equity Webinar series, together with the UGHE Bill and Joyce Cummings Institute of Global Health, will host a panel of prominent experts from diverse backgrounds and regions who will share evidence of the importance of humanitarianism in strengthening delivery of healthcare and discuss the policies and lessons learned in fighting for their protection.



Dr. Rex Wong

Director of the Bill and Joyce Cummings Institute of Global Health 

Dr. Rex Wong is the Director of the Institute of Global Health Equity Education at the University of Global Health Equity, directing and teaching the Master of Science in Global Health Delivery program. He has over 28 years of hospital and health care work experience globally. He has worked and lived in Liberia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt, Australia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, India, Hong Kong, United States, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tanzania on various hospital management, national health system and senior leadership programs.

Dr. Wong was invited as a presenter in many international conferences, guest speaker in different universities, and has been instructing in many senior leadership training programs in many countries. He has published over 40 articles.



Prof. Agnes Binagwaho

Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity 

Prof. Agnes Binagwaho’s full bio can be found on the UGHE website here.





Dr. Sheila Davis

Chief Executive Officer, Partners in Health

Dr. Davis is the Chief Executive Officer of Partners in Health (PIH), a non-profit social justice global health organization, that brings the benefits of modern medical science to impoverished communities in 11 countries. With a staff of over 19,000, PIH works to ensure that the universal human right to quality health care is realized. Dr. Davis has a long history of serving the poor and marginalized, starting with her work with the HIV/AIDS community in the 1980s, both in the U.S. and abroad. She was a clinician in the Infectious Diseases clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital for over 15 years and for the past decade has held multiple cross-site roles at Partners in Health, including Chief of the Ebola Response, Chief of Clinical Operations, and Chief Nursing Officer.


Dr. Jonathan Calbayan

 MD, MIPH, RMT, Public Health Officer/Coordinator, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation Office Kigali, Rwanda

Dr. Jonathan has 15 years of experience in Public Health, focused on Primary Health Care, Reproductive Health and HIV, nutrition, local health systems strengthening, health policy development, emergency/humanitarian coordination, research, and health leadership. He worked with different local and international organizations (MoH, USAID, AusAID, Global Health, KOICA, UNHCR). Dr. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, Doctor of Medicine, and Master of International Public Health (the University of Sydney). He has rich experience in coordination and collaboration with different public health stakeholders at international, national and sub national levels in humanitarian emergency situations.



Dr. Jemilah Mahmood

Chair, Board of Trustees for the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Dr. Mahmood is a medical professional with more than two decades of experience managing crises in health, disasters and conflict settings. She is currently Professor and Director of the newly established Sunway Centre for Planetary Health in Malaysia.  She has been the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Public Health, since April 2020. She is also a member of the Government of Malaysia’s Economic Action Council and Climate Action Council. Her previous appointments include the Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Chief of the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat at the United Nations, and Chief of the Humanitarian Response Branch at UNFPA. She is the founder of MERCY Malaysia a southern based international humanitarian organization. Dr. Mahmood has held many Board positions in NGOs and INGOs and is the recipient of numerous national and international awards for her work. In 2020, she was appointed a Senior Fellow of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre.  She is currently on the board of the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia and ALAM Foundation.  Dr Mahmood graduated as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) has a Masters in Obstetrics & Gynaecology from the same university and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists United Kingdom. She also completed executive education at the International Management and Development Centre, IMD Lausanne.



Ms. Rita Amukhobu

Ag. Head of Humanitarian Affairs Division, Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development

Ms. Rita has over 18 years of experience in the Humanitarian field from the African Union and UNHCR. Currently as the Ag. Head of Humanitarian Affairs Division at the African Union Commission, she manages Humanitarian Affairs Programmes and Free Movement of Persons program in Africa, coordinating with AU Member States, RECs and Humanitarian Partners in Africa.

Ms. Rita has 3 masters degrees in (Public Administration from Open University, UK; in Development Studies from Nairobi University, Kenya; and in Conflict Management from University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)