2018/2019 Directors to be announced !




Commission Advisors

Vidushi Sharma


vidushis picVidushi Sharma is enrolled in Ryerson University’s Public Health and Safety undergraduate program. In her journey to promote human health, prevent infectious diseases and prolong life, she joined the Planetary Health Commission. As Director, she is responsible for coordinating events, overseeing social media, and collaborating on global health discussions with students and faculty at Ryerson. 

Broadening her horizon in public health, she is an advocate of Aboriginal health and aims to improve global health with a focus on social determinants of health and public health policy. 

Dr. David Zakus, BSc, MES, MSc, PhD

DZ at Kibera Clinic, Nairobi July 2012

Dr. Zakus has extensive knowledge and experience in academia, non-governmental organizations and multilateral institutions, having occupied senior roles within each.  He has worked in some 40+ countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, both as an academic and public health and health services consultant and professional.

Dr. Zakus’ teaching and research focus is on international and global health, primary health care, human resource and health systems development, management and reform, community-based health services, community participation, eHealth solutions, and environmental sustainability.

Currently, Dr. David Zakus is Professor of Distinction in Global Health in the Faculty of Community Services, School of Public Health at Ryerson University. Before coming to Ryerson, Dr. Zakus was Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Director of Global Health in the Division of Community Engagement in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada..

In these positions he carried out a broad portfolio of international program and global health development, implementation, support and research in Africa, Asia and Latin America including overseas electives for 100s of medical and other students and residents, directorship of a major $6.1m MNCH project in Ethiopia, research and development in Niger, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda, Nepal, Cambodia, Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador, and many on-campus programs related to global health, including film series and fairs.

David also worked briefly at the Canadian Public Health Association (2010-11) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa (2009-10). He has also held various appointments at the University of Toronto, where he founded and directed the Centre for International Health (2001- 2009) and three universities in China (Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming).

David enjoys riding his bicycle, cross-country skiing, reading, learning and travelling.

Dr. Zakus has a BSc in Biochemistry (U. of Saskatchewan.), Masters of Environmental Studies (York U., Toronto), and MSc and PhD (U. of Toronto) in Health Services Management/Community Health.


Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu, Research Technologist II Commission Advisor

JoanneJoanness P. Yimbesalu is a research scientist by profession, with interests in infectious diseases and public health. He has worked with the Medical College of Wisconsin and is currently pursuing a Certificate in International Development from the University of British Columbia. As a strong advocate for global education, working with children and communities orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and as a Global Youth Ambassador for “A World at School”, Joannes has represented the voices of youth at several spaces, including the Global Citizenship Education Working Group on Policy, Advocacy and Communications convened by the United Nations Youth Advocacy Group (YAG), The Center for Universal Education (CUE), and UNESCO. He has also published articles that critically assess the educational challenges the worlds’ poorest children face through the lens of his organization, Hope For Children Cameroon, which   he founded in 2011.

Joannes recently spoke at a UN High-level Side Event on “Ensuring the Emerging Leadership of African Young Women and Girls towards Agenda 2063”, and at a press conference on “African Women and Girls Speak on Peace, Security and Development in Africa”, jointly organized by the African Union and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa during the 59th Session on the Commission of the Status of Women. His work on gender equality was featured by UN Women in the April 2015 issue as one of the first IMPACT stories since the launch of the UN Women “HeForShe” Campaign, a solidarity movement that calls on men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally, and strengthens the support for women’s rights as human rights.

Joannes is actively involved in the post-2015 development stakeholder Steering Committee processes leading to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015. His efforts to make a lasting difference have been recognized by the UN with the 2014 Youth Courage Award, and by the Queen of England with a Queen’s Young Leader Award, which he accepted in June 2015.