A note from the President

Dear Fellows and other colleagues,

Since 2014, the Trustees and senior management of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) have devoted significant thought, attention and time to the implementation and delivery of our 5 year strategic plan.

This follows a period of organisational change and modernisation with the Society now in a strong financial position, and able to significantly scale-up its activities. It has a strong and engaged governance team and expert staff to work with the Trustees to achieve its strategic objectives. Our collective vision for RSTMH by the end of this next 5-year period is set out below.

In 2019, RSTMH will be a more vibrant and higher-profile charity. We will engage regularly with our constituencies all over the world, making our services accessible through expert use of information technology and digital communications. Our profile within the arena of tropical medicine and global health will be significantly higher and we will have an authoritative voice on policy matters. We will have developed our services to a much higher and bolder level. Our peer-reviewed journals will attract leading research groups and authors, and will be known for their authoritative, highly citable content and excellent author experience. We will have a full calendar of meetings, many run in partnership with other organisations in the United Kingdom and overseas. We will be a thoughtful and responsible grant-maker, focusing on niche and under-funded disciplines. Financially, we will be operating with a small healthy surplus and a higher level of income.

The overarching objective of this new 5-year plan will be to significantly extend the reach and impact of our work: geographically, politically, demographically and financially.

Our specific objectives will be to support the wide-ranging and varied tropical medicine and global health constituencies we represent by facilitating discussion, debate and learning through the provision of high-quality journals and meetings, using the latest technology to extend the reach of our content across the globe, as well as resourcing learning and career development by investing at least £400 000 per annum in educational activity by 2019, and by promoting and positively influencing the work of people working in tropical medicine and global health by developing an authoritative voice on a wide range of policy issues.

The strategies we will employ to achieve our objectives are interlinked and mutually supportive, the first of which is effective engagement with Fellows and potential Fellows. Effective engagement will enable us to better understand, serve and represent our constituencies, improve our recruitment and retention rates and increase our political influence.

We will look to demonstrate innovation in our global engagement, and have redeveloped this website to reposition RSTMH as a community or network, where Fellows can upload professional profiles including career histories, recent blogs and speaking engagements in a networking directory. You will see that we have introduced a ‘resources’ section with information on career pathways and job vacancies and we now offer a blog facility as a platform for Fellows to post entries and generate online dialogue. We urge Fellows to engage with the Society and colleagues on this forum.

With a view to making meeting and journal content more accessible, we now include in the ‘Resources’ section videos from keynote lectures at RSTMH meetings and short lectures from disease or discipline experts giving overviews of journal web collections and signposting to supplementary material.

Our second strategy is an increased focus on the development of RSTMH meeting activity; this will include extending our reach digitally by ensuring wider access to meeting content through filming and streaming of keynote lectures and scientific sessions and introducing a Twitter (@RSTMH) option for question and answer sessions, as well as extending our reach geographically, with the development of at least one tropics-based meeting every year, and extending our reach politically with the introduction of a flagship biennial policy-focussed meeting (in alternate years to the established biennial meeting), the first of which is currently timetabled for September 2015.

Furthermore, we intend to extend our influence and networks through the development of additional United Kingdom meetings, either in partnership or solo, to support other RSTMH activities such as themed issues of RSTMH journals, external events such as World Awareness Days and opportunities that arise with external partners, such as the management of the Challenges in Malaria Research meeting and subsequent extension of the RSTMH biennial to a 5-day event next year in Cambridge [link].

Our third strategy will be to extend the reach and impact of our work through our journals; we will do this by further developing our commissioning effort of highly citable articles and regularly using editorial space to seed content for policy purposes or to generate debate as well as ensuring truly international expert representation on each Editorial Board. Good progress has been made in this area in recent years and our aim is to build on this through on-going recruitment and succession planning.

Fourth, we will develop a distinct grant-making strategy with a focus on supporting the early-career investigator in all disciplines of tropical medicine and global health, including the relationship between human health and animal health. This work is well underway, with a new grants policy published in September 2014 and a new round launched in October 2014. We have now doubled the total amount we are awarding each year.

Finally, we have a strong aspiration to develop an authoritative voice on policy matters relating to tropical medicine and global health and have brought in specific skills at Board level to build our capacity in this area. As part of this work, we look forward to engaging with the RSTMH fellowship and wider colleagues on a regular basis through our HTML newsletter, as we canvas opinion for external consultations and policy development.

We will also regularly seek your views on the implementation of the strategic plan set out above and look forward to your suggestions on how we can maximise our performance for RSTMH


Simon Cathcart and Sarah Rowland-Jones