Richard Feachem to receive Hewitt Award from Royal Society of Medicine

From the UCSF News Center

The Royal Society of Medicine will present the Richard T. Hewitt Award for distinguished achievement in the improvement of human health to Richard Feachem, KBE, FREng, DSc(Med), PhD, director of the Global Health Group at UC San Francisco's Global Health Sciences and a leading figure in international health and development, particularly in the area of malaria elimination.

Feachem served as founding executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and undersecretary general of the United Nations from 2002 to 2007. He is former director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, and former dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. From 1999 to 2002, Feachem was the founding director of the Institute for Global Health at UCSF and UC Berkeley. Since returning to UCSF in 2007, Feachem has led the UCSF Global Health Group, a multidisciplinary team of epidemiologists, physicians and researchers who work on three major initiatives: elimination of malaria, health systems strengthening and translating evidence to policy.

The Richard T. Hewitt Award, established in 1984, is given generally every two to four years by a selection committee of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society of Medicine Foundation. The Royal Society of Medicine provides postgraduate medical education and promotes the exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organization of medicine. Previous recipients of the award include C. Everett Koop, MD, former U.S. Surgeon General; Princess Anne; Halfdan Mahler, former director-general of the World Health Organization; and Donald Henderson, MD, the epidemiologist who led the eradication of smallpox.

Feachem said he was “bowled over” when he received the letter from the president of the Royal Society of Medicine informing him of the award. “I think without a doubt it’s also a tribute to UCSF and the work of the Global Health Group, particularly our impact on malaria worldwide.”

At an award ceremony in London on Sept. 15, Feachem will deliver a lecture on the progress of malaria eradication around the world, stretching from the 1897 discovery of the role that mosquitoes play in transmitting the parasite that causes malaria, to the latest evidence-based strategies to control the disease.

Malaria elimination is a major focus of Feachem’s current work at UCSF, where the Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) aims to end human cases of the disease by 2040. The initiative has defined a three-part strategy that consists of aggressive control in the malaria heartland, progressive elimination from the endemic margins, and continued research and development to bring forward new tools.

Globally, 108 countries have achieved malaria elimination, but the disease still infects more than 200 million people a year, resulting in more than half a million deaths. Malaria eradication is possible within a generation, said Feachem, but will require commitment at a global level. “I think the greatest obstacle to malaria eradication is cynicism that it can’t be achieved, and our greatest asset is the belief that it can be achieved and the energy to achieve it,” he said.