2022: Looking back at the year that has passed
Chief Executive Tamar Ghosh looks back on what has been a busy year for RSTMH and identifies the key highlights and successes of 2022.
This year we have been working hard to develop our next five-year strategy for the period 2023 to 2028, which we will be launching early next year. This involved workshops and discussions with the team, the Board and our Committees. We also ran a survey and conducted interviews for our members, Fellows and supporters. We heard their thoughts on learnings of the last few years, and their advice of what we should be doing more of, and less of, over the next 5 years. As always you were honest and clear in letting us know what you think and we have spent the last few months working through your advice and ideas to develop an exciting new strategy.
It is clear from your feedback that there are some stand out successes of the current strategy, which include the growth of our Grants Programme for early career professionals, the expansion of our events and activities around the world (at least before COVID-19 paused them), our focus on supporting our members and Fellows based outside of the UK and early in their careers, and the creation of the voluntary roles of Country and Student Ambassadors, Global Assessors and new editorial Board members. We have been able to deliver mentoring in a few different formats through the years, and this is one area of work which we need to continue to develop. We also heard of areas where we need to improve - providing more opportunities for networking, for further helping develop new skills and experiences, and also enabling the knowledge of our members and Fellows to be better shared with one another. We should also continue to provide as much opportunity as we can for events across the world, both in person where possible, and virtually, for our members, Fellows and supporters.
In terms of the new strategy please watch the newsletter early in 2023 when we will be sharing it with our members and Fellows. During the first few months we would also like to present it, online and also in person, at a number of our events and partner organisations. Please do get in touch if you are interested in us arranging a strategy presentation at your organisation.
Our Early Career Grant programme 2022
This year we changed the name of our grants Programme from the RSTMH Small Grants Programme to the RSTMH Early Career Grants programme, which we hope better reflects the impact of these awards on the individuals and their careers.
This year was another record breaker for the Programme, with almost 2,000 submissions. We estimate we will be giving out more than 200 grants to individuals when we are complete, and these will be given to individuals in more than 40 countries. The last few Grants will be awarded in early 2023. See the grants awarded so far here.
We have been able to do this because of the incredible help of our partners. The Department of Health and Social Care via the National Institute for Health Research have so far supported 159 grants, Hamish Ogston Foundation 20 grants, Wellcome Trust 10 grants, the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) 3 grants, The Journal of Comparative Pathology Education Trust (JCPET) 1 grant and The International Alliance for the Control of Scabies (IACS) funded one grant. RSTMH will also be funding 6 grants this year for those high-quality applications who fall outside of the funding criteria of our partners.
As in past years, there were a number of grant applications which were deemed to be of high quality by our assessors, but which were unable to be awarded due to lack of funds. These grants are life changing for those starting out in their careers, across all areas of tropical medicine and global health. If you think you, your organisation, or one you know might be able to support our Grant Programme next year, please do get in touch.
Our members and Fellows
We would like to thank all our members who have renewed their subscription, as well as those who have joined our community this year. We wouldn’t be RSTMH nor be able to carry out our work without the support of our incredible members and Fellows. This is even more special to us as we know times have been tough for many around the world in terms of covid-19, financial hardship and conflict.
This last year has seen our membership increase once again. We now have over 1,850 members globally, with members in over 100 countries.
This year we were excited to bring together members from across the globe at our online member networking sessions, which we plan to run again in 2023. We were also able to build upon our Members Area, offering exclusive articles to RSTMH members and Fellows. Finally, we are pleased that more of our members and Fellows have chosen to register with our Members Directory – which enables them to find one another and start discussions and collaborations. During the last couple of years, we hope this has provided more opportunities for our members and Fellows to share ideas and work together. We continue to look for ways we can enhance the skills, experience and networks of all of our members and Fellows through our own activities.
This past year has seen RSTMH delivering a packed calendar of 15 events, 10 of which took place online and 5 face-to-face.
Our Annual Meeting which took place in Liverpool on the theme of ‘topical issues in malaria and in resistance’. This year’s meeting featured speakers including Dr Ethan Bier, Professor Philippe Guérin, Professor Janet Hemingway and Professor Moses R. Kamya. We are so grateful to iiCON for supporting us to deliver this meeting with such amazing speakers. RSTMH members can read an account from one of our travel scholarship awardees, Progress Agboola, at the Annual Meeting here. We are now selling recordings of the Annual Meeting, find out more here.
Events held this year covered a range of themes including Human African Trypanosomiasis, One Health, Antimicrobial resistance, Eco-Epidemiology of Vector-Borne Infection Diseases, the Ascend programme and schistosomiasis.
We are excited to announce the first of our events for 2023 early next year.
Our Medals and Awards
This year we once again recognised success in our sector through our Medals and Awards programme.
The winners were announced at our Annual Meeting in Liverpool and saw Professor Sir Alimuddin Zumla win the Sir Patrick Manson Medal, Dr Mian Muhammad Awais win the Emerging Leaders Award, Professor John Crump win the Chalmers Medal, and Professor Rashida Ferrand win the Donald Mackay Medal, awarded in conjunction with the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. During 2023 we will be organising events for each of our medal and award winners, to receive their award, and also to deliver a talk about their work and career success.
In 2022 we also awarded memberships to individuals from low- and lower-middle income countries as part of our Presidents Fund. Read more about the programme here.
This year, our Student Ambassadors excelled in their activities, with their presence at global health events across the globe making them a real asset to the RSTMH team. They are the instrumental link between students, institutions and RSTMH and make the most valuable contribution to assisting us in achieving our vision and mission. We were delighted to meet a few of them at our Annual Meeting and Research in Progress event, as well as receive blogs from some for our members area.
We look forward to working with the Student Ambassadors who joined us this year throughout the next year. We currently have 26 Student Ambassadors in 19 different countries, and we would love to recruit more in the new year. Find out more about being a Student Ambassador here.
This year we welcomed a new Country Ambassador from The Gambia to the RSTMH network and we look forward to be announcing more in the coming year. Our current Country Ambassadors are experts in their fields who help connect us with our members, supporters and networks outside the UK. Find out more about being a Country Ambassador here.
Throughout 2022, we were pleased to receive over 330 submissions for Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, and over 240 for International Health.
We curated article collections for World NTD Day, World Leprosy Day, World TB Day, World Chagas Disease Day, World Malaria Day, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and World Aids Day, and partnered with Sightsavers to publish two supplements in International Health:
- Achieving Universal Eye Health Coverage: The Role of High-Quality Evidence and Implementation Research (April 2022)
- Accelerating the Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (Ascend): Lessons from the programme in West and Central Africa (September, 2022).
We were delighted to see continued growth in the Impact Factor of both of our journals: the Impact Factor for Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene increased from 2.184 to 2.455 and International Health increased more significantly, from 2.473 to 3.131. We are very grateful to our past and present Editors-in-Chief and our dedicated community of authors, reviewers, Associate Editors, and wider Editorial Board for all their efforts and support of the journals.
We welcomed Dr Stefanie Meredith as Editor in Chief of International Health in March 2022 and Professor Nick Day as Editor in Chief of Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in April 2022. Both Stefanie and Nick bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise and we are looking forward to working with them in the coming years.
Finally, we would also like to place on record our thanks and gratitude to Professor David Molyneux and Professor Sir Brian Greenwood who stepped down from their roles as Editor in Chief of International Health and Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, respectively – after a period of significant growth for both journals.
This year we were excited to build upon our three-year dissemination partnership with Sightsavers, which was designed to highlight research and progress on tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) through our many channels. This partnership enables us to share the learnings of Sightsavers major projects with the scientific committee through our journals, with the wider community through webinars and our newsletter and with an even wider audience through our social media.
We also delivered our first workshop in partnership with DNDi in India. Since 2019 we have been talking about our shared interest in workshops that bring together journalists and early career researchers. This is so they can learn about one anothers work in order to grow skills and networks, and also share ideas of how we can work better together to promote the incredible research in our community. We hope this is the first of many more meetings like this, across the world.
This year saw changes to our presidency as Simon Bush took up his role as President at our Annual General Meeting in October. This saw Professor Janet Hemingway CBE move to become our Past President. Sarah Rafferty took up the role of Vice President while Professor Jimmy Whitworth became our President Elect.
Professor David Mabey CBE began his second term of office while Professor Olaoluwa Pheabian Akinwale started her first term of office as an RSTMH Trustee. We also said thank you to Professor Diana Lockwood as her term of office came to and end.
Earlier this year we ran a photo competition to showcase the people, communities, activities, successes and challenges of snakebite and snakebite research, in partnership with Venoms and Toxins 2022, the 9th international toxinology conference at Oxford (UK). The winning photo is shown at the top of the page and you can see the full ten shortlisted entries here.
We also announce the winner of our 2021 Student Essay Prize. The 2021 prize focused on "Universal Health Coverage". The winning essay was by K.M. Pavani Senarathne who wrote about the healthcare system in Sri Lanka, from the perspective of the common man.
The 2022 student essay prize is now open on the theme of 'health and conflict'. You can find more information here.
Losses to Global Health
We were saddened to learn of the death of Professor Sir Eldryd Parry, Honorary Fellow of RSTMH this year. Professor Parry had been a life fellow of RSTMH since 1970 and was awarded the Donald Mackay Medal in 1998.
We also learnt of the death of Mwele Ntuli Malecela who was director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the WHO.
Dr Mwele was an inspirational leader in so many ways who made an enormous contribution to global health and NTDs. We feel privileged to have worked with her on a number of projects.
This year also saw the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II We were so very grateful to HM The Queen for her support as a Patron of RSTMH over the decades. You can read our tribute, as well as those from RSTMH members and Fellows, here.
This year has seen some changes within the RSTMH staff team, as we said goodbye to our Membership Manager Claire Coveney and our Administrative Assistant Ella Green as they took on new roles.
We were excited to have a number of new starters joining the team this year, with Marie Ko joining us as Grants Manager, Thomas Pinfield joining as Managing Editor and Eva McLean joining as Administrative Assistant.
This year we were pleased to be able to get back to some travels and meet some of our members, Fellows, supporters and partners in person. We managed to reconnect with existing friends, as well as start some new relationships and partnerships. In Thailand, as part of The 20th International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria (ICTMM) we were able to catch up with some of our members and Fellows, to meet many early career researchers and some ambassadors.
In India I had some truly exciting meetings with research instates including CMC Vellore, AIIMS New Delhi and PGIMER, Chandigarh. I met with our Country Ambassador, members of our Editorial Board, our members and fellows across five cities to plan future activities and hear their advice about our strategy.
We are currently making plans for more international, national and online events next year, where we can meet with as many of our members and Fellows as possible.
This year we once again made our very best efforts to manage our costs and increase our income, so we can cover all of our outgoings. During the strategy we have been slowly closing this gap, and this year was no different, and we have reduced the gap between our costs and our income by around two thirds.
During the year the incredible donations provided by our members, Fellows and supporters, on top of membership contributions, event ticket sales and grants, were incredible valuable and appreciated. As a charity our need for more income to be able to cover all of our costs continues, and this has been even more strained in recent months as many of our costs have gone up. If you are able to support RSTMH with a donation, no matter how small, we would really appreciate it. You can do so here.
At this time of year, you could provide a suggested donation for one of our lovely bits of merchandise including socks, luggage tags and badges, available here.
The last point we want to make as we close the year is to say thank you, again, for your time, your energy and your support, which means so much to us and enables to work towards our ambitious but important goals of eliminating disease and improving access and equity in global health. We are really excited about what 2023 brings for RSTMH, our members, Fellows and our friends, and we look forward to meeting you at some point during the year.