November and December 2019 have seen several individuals from ICTC members being selected for awards in recognition of their efforts in support of the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem!
ICTC congratulates and thanks Dr Caroline Harper, Professor David Mabey, Rebecca Mintrim and Dr Sheila West for their outstanding individual efforts towards the global program.
Dr Caroline Harper wins the first Hemmingway Award
On 25 November, Dr Caroline Harper was announced by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as the winner of the first Hemingway Award. The award was launched in 2018 in honour of Professor Janet Hemingway, the former director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Dr Harper was awarded the prize for her extraordinary contribution to the global program to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem through her leadership at Sightsavers. Since joining the organisation in 2005, Sightsavers has expanded significantly and has played a key role as grant manager for the Global Trachoma Mapping Project from 2012-2016, which saw surveyors collect data from 2.6 million people across 29 countries. The project, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided the evidence base to dramatically scale up interventions.
Also under Dr Harper’s leadership, Sightsavers acted as grant manager for the International Coalition for Trachoma Control’s two partnership initiatives: the DFID SAFE Program and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative from 2014-2019. With a combined budget of £80 million, the two partnership initiatives brought together 82 stakeholders including two international donors, government ministries, ICTC members, local NGO partners and international bodies to further support countries across Africa and the Pacific to scale up all components of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy to accelerate progress towards the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem. In Africa, the investment supported over 213,000 surgeries to treat trachomatous trichiasis the late blinding stage of trachoma, the delivery of 75.7 million antibiotic treatments to people living in endemic areas, and the implementation of facial cleanliness and environmental improvement interventions to reduce transmission in 153 districts in 10 countries.
Professor David Mabey to receive the Prince Mahidol Award 2019
On 21 November 2019, David Mabey, Professor of Communicable Diseases and Head of the Department of Clinical Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine was selected to receive the prestigious Prince Mahidol Award 2019.
Professor Mabey’s research has had and continues to have a significant impact on the global program to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. Most notably, Professor Mabey and his colleagues provided the evidence base to show that mass treatment with a single oral dose of azithromycin can effectively treat trachoma infection. Professor Mabey also co-authored a major study which contributed to evidence that shows which shows that twice yearly mass treatment with azithromycin reduced mortality of infants in Africa aged 1-6 months or under 5 years old by 25% and 13%.
Mass drug administration using azithromycin is one of four key pillars of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy, alongside surgery, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements. Since 1999, more than 800 million doses have been donated by Pfizer, through the International Trachoma Initiative to support trachoma elimination efforts, which has contributed to a 91% reduction in the number of people at risk since 2002.
Professor Mabey will receive the award at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference in Bangkok on 30 January 2020.
Rebecca Mintrim receives Inspiring Communicator Award
Rebecca Mintrim, Head of Communications Neglected Tropical Diseases at Sightsavers, has been recognised in the CharityComms 2019 Inspiring Communicators Awards.
Rebecca has played a critical role sharing stories from the ICTC partnership initiatives and other NTD programs. Her work has included promoting the one-billionth treatment delivered by Sightsavers and its partners for NTDs in 2017, which included an event with Professor Stephen Hawking in Cambridge, UK.
Rebecca has played a significant role in driving collaboration with other NTD organisations, and most recently contributed to the development of a new NTD NGO Network (NNN)-endorsed toolkit titled “Collecting stories about neglected tropical diseases: A beginner’s guide to field communications”, which was launched at a workshop she co-moderated at the 2019 NNN conference in Liverpool, UK.
Dr Sheila West to receive the Mildred Weisenfeld Award
In November 2019, Dr Sheila West, El-Maghraby Professor at the Wilmer Eye Institute was awarded the Mildred Weisenfeld Award in recognition for her exceptional contributions to ophthalmology and visual science.
Dr West’s contribution to the prevention and elimination of trachoma as a public health problem is both vast and significant. Among her many achievements, research conducted by Dr West and her colleagues has been instrumental is demonstrating how simple face washing can dramatically reduce trachoma transmission. Dr West has also played a critical role is evaluating the success of trichiasis surgical techniques and outcomes, which has been used to inform preferred practices developed by the International Coalition for Trachoma Control.