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Dr. Keith Martin

Global Health, International Development & Conservation Expert

Dr. Keith Martin is a medical doctor who served as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca on picturesque Vancouver Island from 1993 to 2011. He has a unique set of experiences and skills, having worked at the highest political levels for more than 17 years in the areas of foreign policy and international development, while having on-the-ground experience as a physician who worked in a rural hospital in South Africa while that nation was in a state of emergency. He is also an ardent conservationist who has volunteered on projects in Africa over the last 25 years.

Washington, District Of Columbia, USA


Global Health Challenges and Solutions Dr. Martin is able to speak to a wide range of Global Health Challenges: from Vaccine Programs, to death during childbirth. Initiatives to address the world’s major health challenges have tended to focus on specific diseases and discreet interventions: anti-retroviral medications for AIDS, bed nets for malaria, and vaccinations for an array of communicable diseases. All of these interventions are very important. However, to effectively implement them you need a mechanism. The tendency to silo our efforts to address specific diseases, rather than develop a system to implement effective public health measures has weakened our ability to save lives and reduce suffering. Environmental Security – Human Security Conservation at home and abroad Myopia, ideology and a culture of putting short term gains ahead of the public good will compromise the health and security of Canadians for generations to come. If you look at countries like Germany you can see that strong economies can be built around advances in green technologies. We can do better and in doing better we can have a vibrant economy and a safe environment for our citizens Canada’s role in global health and security Keith believes the common pathway to address global health challenges is access to primary care. This is the bedrock of a good public health system and is comprised of access to reliable diagnostics, medications, adequate nutrition, clean water, sanitation, electricity, basic surgical capabilities, and most importantly, skilled health-care workers. By partnering with organizations that already have sites and reliable logistical systems in place, Canada could strengthen primary care systems throughout the developing world.

Platform Plus

Panelist/In Conversation

  • Canada needs more Keith Martins. Throughout his political career, he has followed his intellect wherever it has taken him. He is fiscally conservative, advocating balanced budgets and more health-care options, but socially liberal.

    - National Post Editorial Board
  • He has been driven by a keen desire to make life better for Canadians, and for people in developing countries. He has never been willing to compromise his principles.

    - Times Colonist Editorial Board

Summary Profile

Born in London, England, Keith grew up in Toronto and graduated from the University of Toronto with a Doctorate of Medicine (M.D.) and a Bachelor of Science (with High Distinction). In 2006, he was appointed by Prime Minister Paul Martin to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. He has Top Secret security clearance. From 1987 to 2006, he practiced emergency medicine and general practice in British Columbia. Keith also provided medical care in a rural hospital on the South Africa/Mozambique border during the Mozambiquan civil war. He has also been a medical researcher and a correctional officer. In Parliament, Keith developed and led many important initiatives in health care, foreign policy, international development, the environment, social program renewal, poverty reduction, democratic reform, economics, human rights, and much more. He has held many posts, primarily in international affairs, including Parliamentary Secretary for National Defence, and Shadow Ministerial portfolios in Foreign Affairs, International Development, and Health. He has been the guest speaker at many international meetings, including chairing the drafting committee at the pre-G8 International Parliamentarian’s Conferences on global health in Tokyo and Rome. Most recently, he has spoken at conferences on international health in Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa. A passionate humanitarian, Keith has participated in numerous diplomatic missions to some of the most troubled areas of the world, including Sierra Leone, the Middle East, Colombia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. He has successfully organized multi-million dollar shipments of medical supplies to areas in crisis, e.g. South East Asia after the tsunami (a $16 million shipment, which was the largest private donation to the WHO), Zimbabwe, Ghana, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Pakistan. Three years ago, he created the website canadaaid.ca, which is an online portal that links NGOs and organizations that help those in low-income settings with people interested in supporting these groups. Using his professional background as a physician, Keith developed the Centers for International Health and Development Initiative (CIHD), which uses universities in North America to help build capabilities in institutions in developing countries. He also created the Canadian Physicians Overseas Programme (CPOP), which mobilizes Canadian medical expertise to build health care capacity in low-income countries. Keith is also the Founder and Chair of Canada’s first Parliamentary International Conservation Caucus. He created the Caucus to connect top environmental scientists with MPs, diplomats, bureaucrats, and NGOs so that they can work together to address the critical environmental challenges of our time. In particular he is showing how sustainable conservation projects can enhance environmental security and human security. Since Sept. 2012, he has served as the Executive Director of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) based in Washington, DC. The Consortium is a rapidly growing organization of over 120 academic institutions from around the world that harnesses a broad range of disciplines across institutions to address global health challenges. It is focused on improving health outcomes for the global poor. He has published more than 150 OP-ED articles in leading Canadian newspapers and has written a local bi-monthly column for 15 years.  For three years, he hosted his own nationally syndicated television show, Beyond Politics, and was selected by Maclean’s magazine as one of Canada’s Top 100 Leaders of Tomorrow.  CBC’s National News show twice named him Canada’s most underrated politician, in 2009 and 2010.