LSTM has awarded the 100th Mary Kingsley Medal to Dr Kevin Marsh, Professor in Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford, for his contribution to the field of Tropical Medicine.
Before the award ceremony Professor Marsh delivered a lecture entitled: The global picture of malaria; is the glass half full or half empty? His lecture looked at the burden of malaria through recent decades, with cases falling in many places in Africa and large gains in child survival. He balanced this by talking about the rise in drug and insecticide resistance and the inevitable reduction in immunity due to the falling exposure, as well as the issue of insufficient funding for control. He concluded that elimination and eradication should remain as long terms goals, but that elimination depended first on control. For this reason he called for new strategies, the development of new tools and for an increase in global funding.
Following the lecture, LSTM’s Director, Professor Janet Hemingway, presented Professor Marsh with the medal, which is named after Mary Kingsley, a self-educated writer and traveller. Kingsley set sail from Liverpool for West Africa on a boat of the Elder Dempster Line of shipping magnate Sir Alfred Jones whose annual £350 donation was instrumental in founding LSTM. A personal friend of Lewis Jones and LSTM's other founder, John Holt, she demanded a wider understanding of African social and legal systems and how they should be reflected in colonial commerce. It lead to the formation of the Fair Commerce Party, The Congo Reform Association and the African Society. It is this ethos of equity, particularly in relation to improving health that continues to drive the work of LSTM.
Professor Hemingway praised Professor Marsh, an alumnus of LSTM, for his dedication to the field of tropical medicine and quoted Mary Kingsley, who said in 1899 “Just keep quiet and hope it will go away – for that’s your best chance; you have none in a stand up fight with a good thorough-going African insect.” Professor Hemingway said: “you have proved to us that we can keep our head up against it, but only just and that our efforts must continue.”
Professor Marsh was delighted with his award, and joins the ranks of other notable recipients including its first recipient Sir Patrick Manson, described by many as the founding father of the field of Tropical Medicine. Professor Marsh said: “I am delighted to be back in Liverpool, it feels like home, having probably spent the longest period of my adult life in the UK in the city. I am particularly proud to be asked to deliver this lecture and honoured to do so in the memory of Mary Kingsley.”
Professor Marsh qualified in medicine at the University of Liverpool and went on to take the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene at LSTM before beginning his research career at the Medical Research Council Unit in Gambia. He is a senior advisor at the African Academy of Sciences and Professor of Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford. He is chair of the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee and a member of a number of international advisory committees relating to malaria and to global health research. He is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was awarded the Prince Mahidol prize for Medicine in 2010.
An overview of previous recipients of the Kingsley Medal can be found here