Speakers biography details (more to be confirmed)

Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage / Healthier Populations, World Health Organisation

Dr Naoko Yamamoto was most recently WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems. Dr Yamamoto brings nearly 30 years of experience working on health in Japan and served as Senior Assistant Minister for Global Heath in Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. In this capacity, she was heavily involved in Japan’s global health leadership, including hosting and organizing the International Conference on Universal Health Coverage in 2015 and supporting the compilation of the G7 Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health and Kobe Communique of the G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting in 2016, both of which highlighted the importance of promoting universal health coverage.

Prior to this role, she served in numerous health-related positions within the government of Japan, including as Director General of the Hokkaido Regional Bureau of Health and Welfare, Director of the Health and Medical Division at the Ministry of Defense, and Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations. She holds a medical degree, a PhD in epidemiology and a Masters in Public Health.



Dr Ruth Verhey, co-developer of Friendship Bench, Friendship Bench researcher and clinician.

Dr Verhey is an experienced Clinical Psychologist with a demonstrated longstanding history of working in the mental health care industry. As well as a EMDRIA approved consultant, she is skilled in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family Therapy, Hypnotherapy, Clinical Supervision. She is a healthcare services professional with a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD focused in Psychiatry from Stellenbosch University.




Representatives from member organisations of the GILC

Eddie Garcia is Executive Director of the Foundation for Social Connection, a non-profit organization in the U.S. aiming to foster evidence-based solutions addressing social isolation and loneliness, and is Senior Advisor to the Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness, a multi-stakeholder organization whose focus is to create awareness around social isolation & loneliness and to advocate for policy reform to combat this issue. Eddie is also the Co-Chair of the ‘Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection’ (GILC), a newly-founded consortium of nations seeking to address and combat loneliness and promote social connection on a broader scale. Eddie is also a Partner at Healthsperien, a nationally recognized health care policy consulting firm focusing on accelerating responsible and sustainable health care system innovation and transformation to improve health outcomes for all, particularly the most vulnerable. Eddie received his B.A. in political science & comparative health politics from Boston University in 2004, and in 2008 received his Master of Health Science in Public Health degree from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.





Robin Hewings, Programme Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness (UK)

He was drawn to the issue because of the profound ways that loneliness can affect us while also being something that many of us can relate to.Before heading up the Campaign, he led our work on policy and research, directing programmes of work on the response to Covid-19 on loneliness, the psychology of loneliness, and refreshing the Promising Approaches framework.He also led the campaign team working in with the devolved administrations and in local areas.





Dr Michelle Lim, Chairperson of Ending Loneliness Together (AUS)

Dr Lim is the scientific chair and chairperson of Ending Loneliness Together, a national initiative which guides Australian charities, government agencies and not-for-profit organisations to deliver evidence-based community messaging and solutions in loneliness. She is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and leads the Social Health and Wellbeing (SHAW) Laboratory. Dr Lim is interested in how loneliness can negatively impact social functioning and exacerbate mental health symptoms (e.g., social anxiety, depression, and paranoia). She focuses on the development and evaluation of evidence based solutions that can address loneliness in young people with first episode psychosis, social anxiety disorder, as well as nonclinical populations across the lifespan. Dr Lim’s interests extend to the development and implementation of personalised mental health, cognitive biases in psychopathology, subclinical psychotic symptoms, decision-making, and emotion regulation processes. Dr Lim is a registered clinical psychologist and a board approved supervisor for the Psychology Board of Australia. She currently holds multiple research collaborations with Washington University in St Louis, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), the University of Melbourne, and Australian Catholic University.