RSTMH strategy: one year on

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Monday, 10 December 2018

Tamar Ghosh, RSTMH CEO, reflects on the year since we launched our 2017-2022 strategy.

In September of 2017 we launched our new five-year strategy.

A new vision and mission

We have bold targets and an inspirational vision to save lives and improve equity and access to health.

Our mission is to be at the heart of the tropical medicine and global health community providing the knowledge and networks, across all disciplines, that drive impact.

The overarching approach to achieving this is to better understand and harness the collective knowledge and expertise of our members and networks, and also build on our existing strengths to realise our potential.

The strategy itself was built on a six-month process that included a comprehensive survey with approximately 200 respondents, workshops and over 100 interviews with our members and other networks.

Delivering better impact

Put simply, our strategy is helping us deliver better impact. With our vision in mind, we wanted to achieve this through three different pathways.

First, by helping our members achieve through their careers; through development, providing them with their first grant, showcasing their work and utilising our networks to increase their profile and reach.

Second, we hope to achieve impact by bringing together the incredible knowledge and expertise of our members and supporters, as showcased in many aspects of our work.

By bringing the learning from our scientific journals, grants, meetings and event outputs together with what our members tell us, we can identify the actions needed and work towards them.

As an example of this, we have this year, been helping our members who are UK clinicians to better understand how they can spend time working overseas, and return to work in the UK.

Third, supporting convening conversations and being at the heart of the global health and tropical medicine communities.

For example, this year we identified a need to amplify the issue of snakebite and led a group of partners to establish the first International Snakebite Awareness Day. In an area where there is already much activity around the components of this problem, we see a need for collaborative focus.

Better systems, new staff and more engagement with our members

Our members are at the heart of our strategy and our dedicated Membership Manager, Claire Coveney started at RSTMH at the begining of 2018. Since being in post, she has been reviewing and updating the processes that are used to inform and engage our members. The result has been more frequent and tailored communications as well as updated messaging and tone.

She is extremely committed to listening to members and hearing their views and has made a point of meeting as many members as possible since she’s been with us.

To deliver our strategy, we also need to ensure we have the right infrastructure and systems through which to carry out our day-to-day work.

Some of our systems are in need of upgrading to ensure we are compliant with rules and regulations, and to provide a better service to our members and fellows.

This work is well under way, with some of the goals having already been met, under the leadership of Amelia Fincham, our Team and Office Administrator. Further processes continue to be developed and we look forward to demonstrating these in due course. 

In terms of our journals, we have almost completed our review of our journals model. This review included recruiting two Editors-in-Chief, Professor Sir Brian Greenwood for Transactions and Professor David Molyneux for International Health, supported by two editorial boards and managed by our new Managing Editor, Clodagh McGuire.  

Sarah Marzouk, our Digital Communications Manager, has been in post for more than a year and has made an incredible difference to our profile on social media and beyond. She has been working on engaging our members and growing our networks through our newsletters, social media and disseminating blogs and articles on research published in the journals and from our members. The extent of this reach has grown exponentially under her supervision and continues to increase month on month.

The new strategy also highlighted the need to strengthen our existing relations with members, networks and partners. There isn’t enough space here to tell you about all the ways in which we have been working on this, but it has been an overarching focus on all activities we deliver.

We could not have achieved what we have in the last year without a large group of volunteers. This includes our 75+ strong team of Global Assessors, who have been instrumental in ensuring the consistent quality of our small grants, abstracts and travel scholarships submissions. This year we have also established the roles of Student, Country and Regional Ambassadors, so that knowledge about our support is more accessible around the world. Through these activities we are hearing a much wider range of views about how we can improve our work.

New and strengthened partnerships

Partnerships with institutions, NGOs, other societies and industry, have been established and improved and this remains a focus of our  time and efforts. This includes NNN, Health Systems Global, ASTMH and MedTrop (our counterparts in the US and Brazil), as well as MSF and Sightsavers.

We have established new and more frequent ways to keep in touch with our members, and I have had the honour of meeting some of our longest-standing members, including Professor Wallace Peters. Since the strategy launched, we have hosted three dinners to thank our longest-standing members, our medal winners and past officers of the Society and we are planning more for 2019.  

We have also strengthened our governance by revising the structure of our presidential terms and setting up new committees for policy and advocacy, and international members. For the first time, we also have an Early Careers Trustee, Sarah Rafferty. Thank you to our Past President, Simon Cathcart and current President, Sarah Rowland-Jones for getting us to this point in the strategy. We also welcome Malcolm Molyneux as our President-elect and Wendy Harrison to the first year of her Vice-Presidency. 

Two important audiences for our strategy are members who live outside of the UK and early career members. This year we have trialled several new activities for early career researchers and professionals, including a new students careers day and establishing the role of Student Ambassador so that those early in their career know how we can support them.

More activities for early career researchers and international members

We have also piloted a careers training day for tropical medicine, launched the student essay competition and signed an MOU with Students for Global Health. Additionally, we’ve been working with other groups about ways in which we can help our members learn about tropical medicine through their training, and partake in opportunities to experience this first hand.

The number of events delivered outside of the UK, including those where we work with partners, has quadrupled this year including events in India, Tanzania and Brazil.

We are working hard to be more diverse in terms of gender, sector, geography and discipline, across all our activities.

We have tried to meet with our members and supporters wherever we travel, and to listen to how we can better meet their needs. We’re also working on new ideas for ways to bring our cohorts together on social media and increase virtual accessibility to us and our work.

In summary, the strategy is in a strong position one year on. We have both established new activities and taken fresh approaches to long-standing work to achieve success. There are many remaining areas of work to do and we look forward to continuing to work towards our vision over the next four years.

On behalf of the team I would like to thank all our members, partners and networks for your support this year.

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