Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s highlights of 2018
2018 has been an eventful 12 months for us and, as is custom when the year draws to a close, we wanted to look back at our achievements, thank our members and supporters and look ahead to 2019, and the exciting things to come.
I hope you enjoy our 2018 highlights – Happy New Year from all of us!
On 19 September, we joined with partners to launch International Snakebite Awareness Day. Snakebite kills up to 138,000 people every year, yet it is not well profiled globally.
The launch shows how we have identified an area we think can contribute to our wider goals of improving access and equity to health.
To raise awareness of snakebite, we also made a film with the Centre for Snakebite Research & Intervention at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM).
Early careers researchers
We focused a lot on early careers researchers this year, including conducting a student essay competition, delivering our first Careers Day event and launching the role of Student Ambassador. We ran two Research in Progress meetings, in Tanzania and the UK. Next year we plan to run them in a couple more countries.
We now have over 50 Student Ambassadors in universities and medical schools across the world. The Careers Day was a new initiative and gave us an opportunity to tell students about career opportunities in research, with NGOs and more.
With our Education and Training Committee we worked on ensuring UK trainee doctors and consultants are aware of how they can work overseas and return to practice in the UK. This came about as a result of us responding to issues that hinder our members from maximising their careers in tropical medicines.
Reconnecting with long-standing members
In April, we hosted a dinner at Chandos House to celebrate the contribution to the Society of long-standing members and past medal winners.
It was great to see so many old friends and we aim to host more dinners in 2019. We also reconnected with some older members, including Professor Wallace Peters and Professor Gordon Cook, both former Presidents.
We’ve been much more active this year in the digital space. We’ve had amazing engagement on social media, reaching people like WHO Director General, Dr Tedros and having our news picked up by media outlets including Al Jazeera, the Telegraph and the Financial Times.
Subscriptions to our newsletter have also increased and we thank you for your positive feedback.
The new team
We’ve introduced new team members through the newsletter, but in case you missed it, we now have a full team of six, covering all our main areas of work: journals, events, membership, communications, systems and processes, as well as grants, medals and awards, and policy work.
Our extended team
We wanted to mention the incredible work done this year by our dedicated team of Global Assessors, Student Ambassadors and volunteers.
We estimate we’ve benefitted from the help and support of over 100 volunteers in 2018. We’re a small (but efficient) team, so having this help is priceless.
2018 was the year Dr Simon Cathcart handed over the presidential chain to Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones. We thank Simon for all his help and guidance over the past three years and welcome Sarah into her new role. Thanks also to our Board of Trustees and Committees for their time and efforts.
We also created the roles of President-elect and Past President, launched the International Members Committee to ensure our overseas members can input more into our work, and welcomed our first Early Careers Trustee, Sarah Rafferty.
This year was incredibly exciting for our journals. Firstly, we announced Professor Sir Brian Greenwood and Professor David Molyneux as Editors-in-Chief of Transactions and International Health respectively.
Secondly, we started recruitment for the editorial boards to support the Editors-in-Chief in their strategic roles. We have already announced Professor Peter Hotez, Dr Georgina Humphreys and Dr Zohra Lassi, with more announcements to follow shortly.
Staying with the journals, we were thrilled that this year the impact factors for both journals increased. Transactions has increased from 2.279 to 2.820. International Health has increased from 1.784 to 1.797.
The most accessed articles from each journal this year are On the meaning of global health and the role of global health journals (International Health) and Dengue seroprevalence: data from the clinical development of a tetravalent dengue vaccine in 14 countries (2005–2014) (Transactions).
Our Annual Meeting was a highlight for many reasons. It was our first event to focus on NTDs and their intersections with NCDs and the Sustainable Development Goals.
We highlighted lesser-known NTDs and the intersections that most commonly hinder progress, specifically conflict, the built environment, disability and mental health. The cross-sector discussions on these areas provided us with the context for our policy position and further action, which we hope will achieve real impact.
Sadly, around 15 of our early career researchers were not able to attend the Annual Meeting and other events due to visas being refused.
We had more than 600 applications for our small grants, up from 214 in 2017. These grants are crucial for early career researchers in providing seed funding and the chance to explore new ideas.
We hope this, along with many of our other activities, will be the starting point for many future leaders in tropical medicine and global health.
We’re excited to see the impact starting to show from past grant awards and are preparing for 2019’s round early in the year.
As we state in our five-year strategy, our members are at the heart of everything we do. This year we’re delighted to note that more members are choosing to stay with us and more new members are joining.
We have been reviewing and updating the processes we use to inform and involve our members. Our Membership Manager, Claire, is committed to listening to and meeting as many of you as possible.
Women and RSTMH
It’s been a landmark year for women in our field. In October, we announced the Hemingway Award, named after Professor Janet Hemingway as she retired as LSTM Director, to recognise future success in translational science.
We took part in the Women Leaders for Global Health meeting, organising a fully-female panel on careers, which featured our Trustee, Dr Marta Tufet, CEO of Sightsavers, Dr Caroline Harper CBE and Karen Goraleski, Executive Director of our partner ASTMH.
First Policy Advisor
In September, with our Policy and Advocacy Committee, we announced our first Policy Adviser, Dr Adam Roberts from LSTM.
He will be advising on one of our six priority areas, drug-resistant infections and is currently finalising our policy position in this area.
European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health (ECTMIH)
With less than a year to go before ECTMIH, there have been several exciting announcements.
We announced Dr Adrian Hopkins as the Congress’s Scientific Chair, we opened for abstract submissions and revealed we will be premiering a news programme on access to health at the event, in collaboration with ITN Productions.
Sign up here to receive our ECTMIH newsletter.
It feels right to round up our highlights with a mention of the partnerships we strengthened and renewed. This was achieved in several ways, but it was through the meetings and events we were part of where this was most keenly felt.
Just a few examples include, sponsoring the Photo Voice project at HSR 2018 in Liverpool, meeting our Brazilian friends at MedTrop, organising an NTDs photo competition for the NNN meeting in Ethiopia, convening our members in New Orleans at ASTMH’s Annual Meeting and attending the MIM Malaria Conference in Senegal this April.
Our next meeting, Topics in Infection, in partnership in Public Health England and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry will take place in January in London. We hope to see you there!