ADN’s Special Session on Avoidable Deaths

This page contains the Description, Feedback, Timings, Recording of the ADN’s First Special Session and Speakers’ Biography for the Special Session on Avoidable Deaths. To download the flyer for the event, please click here


The Special Session, titled: Let’s Talk About Avoidable Deaths: Views from Multiple Sectors, aimed to raise the visibility of avoidable deaths in the context of disasters and sustainable development. It is organised by the Avoidable Deaths Network (ADN) in collaboration with Makerere University, Uganda, and was held on 4 December 2020 at 11 AM GMT. To be redirected to the ADN Special Session page on the G.O.R.I.L.L.A. Conference website, please click here.

Avoidable death can be considered a positive concept. It advocates that needless deaths, which occur every day globally, can be avoided through effective and timely interventions, early preparedness, early warning systems, effective governance – among other measures. Although the concept of avoidable deaths has its origin in the health sector, it is applicable in other sectors, including disaster management and sustainable development. This Special Session at the ‘International Conference on Geographical Science for Resilient Communities, Ecosystems and Livelihoods under Global Environmental Change’ (G.O.R.I.L.L.A.) on 4 December 2020 explored the multi-disciplinary appeal and application of avoidable deaths caused by the natural world (e.g. snake bites) and human-made systems (e.g. premature deaths, maternal deaths during disasters) (IFRC, 2014).

Our esteemed speakers consisted of academics, researchers and practitioners from public health, disaster management, disaster risk resilience, and humanitarian sectors and they covered deaths resulting from conditions such as snakebites, tobacco and alcohol consumption, maternal ill-health and deaths from disasters. They also shed light on the way the number of avoidable deaths can be reduced, and how avoidable deaths can be integrated into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals especially for the Targets 1.5, 3.8, 11.5 and 13.1.

This ADN’s Special Sessions are suitable for disaster responders, students, academics, researchers, policymakers, opinion formers, and practitioners interested in avoidable deaths, UN’s Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Goal A and B, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Please click here to read the full description of this Special Session.


During this Special Session, two poll surveys were held; one at the start of the session and one towards the end in order to analyse the immediate impact of this Special Session. Additionally, after the Special Session took place, all participants were requested to provide feedback through an online survey. To see the results and analysis of these surveys, please click here.


Time Session Title Speaker
 10:30 – 11:00 

Conference digital platform login on Zoom & Gathering of panellists/speakers


11:00 – 11:20

Welcome speech 


Introducing the Avoidable Deaths Network


“Let’s Talk about Avoidable Deaths”/ Introduction of Speakers

Dr Yazidhi Bamutaze


Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita


Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennett

11:20 – 11:55

Avoidable Mortality in India: Lessons from the Million Death Study

Professor Prabhat Jha
(Keynote Speaker)

11:55 – 12:10

Deaths in the Snakebite Capital of the World: India

Mr Gowri Shankar

12:10 – 12:25

Progress on the Implementation of the Africa Programme of Action (PoA) for the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030

Mr Gatkuoth Simon Kai

12:25 – 12:35

Tea Break
(with Networking on Zoom)


12:35 – 12:50

Using the MISP to reduce excess mortality and morbidity in humanitarian crisis

Ms Ashley Wolfington

12:50 – 13:05

Avoidable Malaria Deaths in Bangladesh in 2020

Dr. Afsana Alamgir Khan

 13:05 – 13:25


Prof. Norio Okada and Mr Mihir Bhatt

13:25 – 13:30

Closing of Ceremony


Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennett


 Dr Hideyuki Shiroshita

Recording of the Special Session

The Avoidable Deaths Network’s Special Session on Avoidable Deaths is now online and available for wider viewing on ADN’s YouTube channel. 

Speakers’ Biography

Professor Prabhat Jha (OC, MD, DPhil, FCAHS, FRSC) is a University Professor at the University of Toronto, Endowed Professor in Global Health and Epidemiology and Canada Research Chair at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and the founding Director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital.

He is the lead investigator of the Million Death Study in India, which quantifies the causes of premature mortality in over 3 million homes from 1998 to current. His publications on tobacco control have enabled a global treaty now signed by over 180 countries. He founded the Statistical Alliance for Vital Events, which focuses on reliable measurement of premature mortality worldwide.

Earlier, Professor Jha served in senior roles at the World Health Organization and the World Bank. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012. Professor Jha holds an M.D. from the University of Manitoba and a D.Phil. from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Mr Gowri Shankar is a wildlife biologist studying king cobras for close to two decades. He is pursuing his PhD at North Orissa University and is a former exchange student at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is a TED Fellow 2020.

He has been featured in several wildlife documentaries like the ‘King and I’, ‘Secrets of the King Cobra ‘, ‘Asia’s Deadliest Snake’, ‘Wildest India’, ‘Mysteries of Wild India’ and ‘The Cobra King’ by channels like the BBC, Discovery, NatGeo Wild, Animal Planet, Smithsonian and the National Geographic Channel.

Mr Shankar is also the founder director of Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology (KCRE), and Kalinga Foundation, an environmental education centre and an NGO focusing on ecological research and conservation respectively.

Mr Gatkouth Kai is Disaster Risk Management Expert with over 15 years of progressive experience in leading several development initiatives and life-saving humanitarian interventions on the African Continent.

He is currently working with African Union Commission as Technical Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction Unit, a role he is passionately contributing to development and strengthening of institutions and systems of governance for disaster risk management on the continent.

Prior to joining the AU Commission, Mr Kai managed several peace-building, resilience and complex humanitarian emergency projects.

Ms Ashley Wolfington is currently the Interim Director of Humanitarian Programmes at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, United States. She was previously the Senior Technical Advisor for Reproductive Health at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). With 15 years of experience in public health and communications, she has worked to promote comprehensive reproductive health care in countries across the globe, through Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Ms Wolfington’s expertise lies in sexual and reproductive health and HIV, humanitarian and development programs and policy, and her work furthers her commitment to elevate the voices of women and girls as well as amplify the needs of those affected by conflict, health emergencies, and disasters. She holds a BA in Political Science with a minor in French from Duke University and an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.   

Dr Afsana Alamgir Khan is the Deputy Program Manager of National Malaria Elimination and Aedes Transmission Disease Control Program under Communicable Disease Control, Directorate General of Health Services, MOHFW. She joined Bangladesh Civil Service in 2006. Since then, she has been working in different Health Portfolios such as NCDC, Drug Administration, Public Health Institute etc.

Dr Khan has experience working as Upazilla Health and Family Planning officer (UHFPO), Bacteriologist in the Institute of Public Health, Senior Medical officer in Arsenic and Non-communicable Diseases, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). She has been in the USAID funded and MSH implemented SIAPS program as Technical advisor from 2014 till of 2018. She has a strong back ground on working in Pharmacovigilance, GMP and other regulatory activities of DGDA (Directorate General of Drug Administration). 

She is also a Senior News Presenter in NTV, Bangladesh. Besides, she is an enlisted Hawaiian Guitarist and News Presenter in Bangladesh Betar (Radio Bangladesh) and enlisted Drama Artist in Bangladesh Television.

Professor Norio Okada’s brief biography is available here

Mr Mihir Bhatt’s brief biography is available here.  


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC. (2014) World Disasters Report 2014: Focus on culture and risk. Available at: (Downloaded on: 11 November 2020)