Participant bios

Participants for the seminar "Global mental health as crisis preparedness and a development priority"

Webinar 22 March 2023 participants:

Ragnhild Dybdahl (Moderator) is a PhD in psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist. At the Norwegian Institute of Public health she is leading an institutional collaboration programme to strengthen public health institutions in several low and middle income countries. She is also an adjunct associate professor of global mental health at Center for Crisis Psychology, University of Bergen.
She has many years experience in global mental health as a clinician, aid worker, educator and researcher. She has worked in international development and humanitarian collaboration as a bureaucrat, diplomat, aid worker, researcher, and practitioner and has experience from Bosnia, Guatemala, Somalia, Viet Nam, Sudan, Niger and other countries.

Harald Thorud, UNDP Norway, is team leader for UNDP Nordic office in Oslo. He has 17 years experience in international work and has worked fulltime for the UN since 2009. From 2017-2021 he worked for the UN General Secretary’s peace building fund in New York, where he was the contact person for the Nordic countries and country manager for Latin-America og Caribbean, South-Sudan og Sudan, West-Balkan og Central-Asia.
Harald has worked with conflict work in UNDP Pakistan where he was responsible for the UNDP Youth program. In UNDP he has worked with crisis management, as regional election advisor for the UNDP regional office in Bangkok and as program responsible for UNDPs election support program in Afghanistan.
Harald has a master’s degree in contemporary politics from the University of Carlos III de Madrid (Spain) and University of Bath (UD). He completed his studies at Bond University (Australia), Griffith University (Australia), Universidad de Belgrano (Argentina) og Harvard University (USA).

Alison Schafer (PhD ClinPsych) is a technical officer and programme manager for WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health, Department of mental Health and Substance Use, WHO, HQ. She has worked in global humanitarian and development sector for more than 20 years and has been supporting mental health and psychosocial programmes since 2007. She has published extensively on global mental health.

Frode Forland is a Scientific Director of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, currently based in Addis Ababa as a seconded Advisor to Africa CDC in the areas of Evidence, Health Security and NCDs. Education: MD with a speciality in Public Health and General Practice. Previous Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Tromsø, the Arctic University of Norway.
He has more than 25 years of experience in Evidence Synthesis and application of Evidence Based Methods for Health Care and Public Health. He has working and leadership experience in the field of PH and Infectious diseases for more than 30 years.

Michael Udedi is a public mental health specialist with several years’ experience of mental health research focusing on improving access to mental health care. He is a PhD graduate of the University of Malawi supported by the African Mental Health Research Initiative and one of the first PhD-trained mental health clinical researchers in Malawi.
He holds an administrative and leadership role at Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Division under the Curative and Medical Rehabilitation Services Directorate in the Ministry of Health (Malawi) as an Assistant Director responsible for mental health. He is also the Co-Chair for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Task Team in Malawi. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and a Postdoctoral Fellow at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Michael Udedi has published several scientific publications. His mental health career focuses on the integration of mental health care as well as improving quality of mental health care through research and policy work.

Paul Richard Fife, Head, Section for Global Health, Department for Human Development, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation – Norad. Dr. Paul Richard Fife assumed in October 2022 a new function as the Head of the Global Health Section at Norad. Prior to that, he was the Director for Human Development (prev. Health, Education and Research) in Norad. In these various roles he has over the last decade contributed to Norway’s international engagement and overseen the implementation of aid investments in global health, education, higher education and research, as well as human rights and gender equality. Dr. Fife has represented the Government of Norway on various Boards, including of the Vaccine Alliance GAVI, the Global Financing Facility (GFF) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). From 1995-2003, he worked on vaccines and health systems strengthening with UNICEF in Eritrea, Cambodia and at UNICEF NYHQ in New York. A Norwegian national, he trained as a medical doctor in Norway and holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management.

Kseniia Semeniak – Mental health and psychosocial support Manager, Advisor in SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine (management background).

Kedar Marahatta is a national professional officer at WHO country office for Nepal and has been supporting the Government of Nepal in strengthening the national mental health systems through legal and policy reforms; partner coordination, resource mobilization and integrating MH interventions in different policies and plans. He is a psychiatrist by background, and prior to joining WHO he served as a faculty member at the Department of Psychiatry at Patan Academy of health Sciences, Lalitpur Nepal.

Ståle Stavrum is the International Programme Director of FORUT Norway, as well as the head of the Norwegian Network for Global Mental Health. He has been engaged in development and humanitarian work in Africa and Asia over the last 30 years. Before FORUT he worked in the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency (Norad). Staale was also head of the Norwegian Development Network (Bistandstorget) for close to a decade. Five formative years in Zambia, first as a child and later as a young adult, conspired to lead him down this career path.

Heidi Westborg Steel is head of ICDP Norway (International Child Development Program (parenting program)). She was as general secretary of HimalPartner the initiator of the Norwegian Network on mental health where she is today is still active. She has 20 years’ experience in the civil society sector specializing in mental health and substance abuse. Her background is in organisational development and geography with a focus on primary health system strengthening, specifically on context-oriented implementation strategies and networking. She has been working in and with Africa (Southern Africa) and Asia (Nepal and China).

Published 02.03.2023
Last updated 02.03.2023