RSTMH Strategy 2023 – 2028: Reflections and looking ahead

14 Mar 2023

This year marks the start of the new five-year strategy for RSTMH. This is an exciting time for the society as we build on the successes of our last five years, and have the opportunity to introduce some exciting new activities which we hope will help us move closer to achieving our overall goals in 2023-2028. 

We are very grateful to all of our members, Fellows, friends and networks who fed into this process in 2022, providing feedback and ideas which helped to shape our new five-year plans. 

The last five years

In the last strategy period, some of our biggest successes were our journals and our Early Career Grants Programme. Throughout the last five years, the Early Career Grants Programme has provided more than 570 early career researchers and professionals with the chance to carry out their own one-year research project for the first time. We have been able to do this because of the incredible support from our partners who provided additional funding for the Programme, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) which is the research function of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, Wellcome Trust, Hamish Ogston Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, International Trachoma Initiative, the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies, and The Journal of Comparative Pathology Educational Trust. Our awardees have told us that some of the outcomes of their projects, alongside the main findings, include developing new technical, management and social skills, growing networks and collaborations, and experiencing new milestones such as publishing and presenting for the first times. 

Some awardees have been able to secure a new role as a result of their project, and others have secured a second grant at a higher level. However, we know from a recent piece of research that many awardees would like to secure a next grant but have been unable to. In addition, although many of our awardees have access to support at their institutions, many need more support to help them achieve these larger grants. Therefore, in this first year of our new strategy, we are scoping new areas of grants – follow on grants for awardees and capacity building support. 

Our journals have also shown great success in the last strategy, with the development of new editorial boards, a restructure of the team and an increase in submissions from around the world. We also moved International Health to be full open access in 2020.

Throughout the next year we will be focusing on ensuring that as many of our members, Fellows and networks are able to publish their important work in Transactions and International Health, and are supported in developing the skills needed to do so. We will also focus on encouraging more experts in our networks to become Associate Editors. 

Support of our volunteers

Throughout the last five years we would not have been able to deliver so much without the support of our hundreds of volunteers. They ensure our activities are of the highest quality through reviewing and managing articles submitted to the journals, applications to our grants programme, abstracts for our events and applications for Travel Scholarships. We are very thankful for all of the time of our Assessors, Reviewers and Editors and this year we are looking at ways to engage them further in the Society so they can benefit from more of our activities and support. We will also scope the possibilities of including those early in their careers in our journals and grants processes, so they may be able to develop new skills.

During the last strategy we introduced the roles of Country and Student Ambassadors across the world. We have been delighted to welcome so many new Ambassadors, who give their time to ensure RSTMH is better known, and also influenced by their knowledge and expertise. We are very grateful for all they do and in this first year we will be working on ways to welcome more Ambassadors, including Regional Ambassadors, to the extended RSTMH team.  

Our meetings and events

During the last five years we started to deliver more meetings and events outside of the UK, both on our own and with partners. Sadly, many of our plans for the second half of the strategy period were not possible to deliver, due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year we look forward to continuing to get our plans back on track, and having a presence in as many regions of the world as possible.
This year we have a few changes to our events plans. We are trialing a change to our Annual Meeting so it is more accessible to our members and Fellows, and can cover a wider range of topical issues. It will be a two-day meeting but with two tracks to include invited speakers, abstracts, discussions and potentially some workshops. As always, it will include some time for mentoring and networking. 

We are also scoping a new Regional Meeting which will move across the regions of the world which are most important to our work, and provide an opportunity for us to run a scientific meeting, to showcase and support our grant awardees and those early in their research career, and to meet our members and Fellows. This year we are scoping the first of these meetings in Nigeria, which we hope will happen in October. 

Finally, we are running – for the first time – an online Research in Progress meeting. This meeting has been running for many years in the UK and in Tanzania and is a meeting to showcase the research of those early in their careers, as a presentation or a poster, combined with some inspirational talks and mentoring sessions. This year we are running our first online Research in Progress meeting on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 May 2023.

Our partners

Throughout our last five years we have been lucky to work with many partner organisations, including academic institutions, NGOs, hospitals, and governmental organisations and departments. We have formalised activities with some of these, including medals and awards in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. We also ran an event on behalf of the Federation of European Societies in Tropical Medicine and International Health in 2019. 

This year, we want to formalise more global partnerships with institutions and other organisations and societies through developing agreements, which will guide how we work together to deliver activities, to showcase each others work, and to support their members, faculty and students. We are starting this year by working to finalise a group of agreements with institutions and partners in India. 

Our members and Fellows

Our members and Fellows are, and have always been, at the heart of everything we do. Through their presence on our Board and Committees, as Ambassadors and through our activities they influence every area of our work. 
This strategy aims to continue and strengthen this, ensuring members and Fellows benefit from all of our activities, that their interactions with the society are as easy and efficient as possible, and that we provide platforms for them to share their expertise with one another. This year we are going to trial the start of expert sessions where we encourage members and Fellows to share their expertise with one another.  

This is not an exhaustive list of everything we will be doing in this first year of our strategy. We also have goals around better using our incredible networks and knowledge to affect the awareness, funding, research and policies that are important in our global work. To strengthen this impact we will continue to raise our profile in the countries and within the communities we work. 

The team, our Board and Committees and our systems will be important to us, and this year we hope the team will be complete with all eight members, and our systems will be as efficient as possible. We are delighted to be starting our new strategy with Mr Simon Bush as our President, and under him and the Trustees we will shape the remainder of the strategy period. 

Although our income has increased over the course of the last strategy there is still a distance to travel to ensure we are able to cover the costs of our activities. We will be starting some new activities in this first year to help us increase our income, and we hope you will be able to support us in these. 

We have already published our overall strategy for the next five years here. Over the next few weeks, the team will work with the Board to finalise our budget and our measures and indicators of success. These will help us to keep on track to fulfill our overall aims and vision.  We will also announce a series of strategy launch events, starting in India in April and hopefully in person in as many places as we are able to, and also online in May this year. Please do watch the newsletter for dates to be announced for each of these and we hope you can join us for one of them.   

Read the RSTMH strategy 2023 - 2028 here.