Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene was present at the 54th MedTrop

Dr. Simon Cathcart, who attended the Congress’ opening ceremony representing the RSTMH, believes an important partnership between the two societies will be strengthened


The BSTM has wide experience and expertise about what is happening in brazil, not only regarding tropical diseases, but also about the great innovation and the great researches that are happening. The partnership between the two societies can strengthen this

The 54th Congress of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (MedTrop) was a true mark in the BSTM’s event history with a record attendance. Counting a total of 4.763 participants, the event hosted simultaneously 42 round-tables, 23 lectures and 11 conferences, besides the presence of renowned and prominent people. One of the highlights was Dr. Simon Cathcart, the president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, who was a guest of honour at the opening ceremony. In his social media, the British Medical Society reinforced their presence in the Brazilian Congress. “@medtrop opening by Professor Sinval Pinto Brandao Filho, President of the Brazilian Society. Were proud to have our president @drsimonc be part of ceremony as we embark on strengthening the important partnership between our two societies. #medtrop2018”.

Tamar Ghosh, CEO at the RSTMH, interviewed by the BSTM’s press advisory, revealed the intentions for a future partnership. “We wanted to strengthen our links with the BSTM and were invited to consider coming and sharing our platform. We are delighted to be here and thinking on how we can work together in the future as well”, she said. Ghosh said to be surprised with the dimension of the event and revealed she was not expecting 3 thousand people or more. “It is enormous! What I liked so far was the opening ceremony, that covered lots of diseases but also covered lots of different viewpoints! We had from patients to researchers, and this mix is really important because there are so many perspectives to tropical medicine and we need to hear the voices from all areas of work and understand them”, she remembered.

According to Ghosh, the BSTM has wide experience and expertise regarding Brazil’s reality, not only on tropical diseases, but also about the innovations and great researches that are happening. To her, a partnership between the two societies can increase this link, besides enhancing the work developed in the Country, with information that challenge the success on tropical diseases. “We could make sure Brazilian researchers and professionals are in touch with their peer groups across Africa, across Asia, so their data can be seen together, so we can look at the patterns and look at the gaps in the research and help get more information flowing. That would help us in these diseases”, she added.

Are tropical diseases seen by the British as they are by Brazilians?

The CEO at the RSTMH is emphatic when saying the definition of tropical diseases is hard, complex, because despite the existence of geographic boundaries, diseases are not contained by those, they do not cease to freely travel around the world, so, despite understanding what the tropics mean, tropical diseases is a much more fluid concept, in the sense that weather patterns are changing, the environment is changing, as are diseases and vectors. “I think that we agree that this is an area where we need to bring more clarity. What we shouldn’t like to see is that people opt out of the discussion because they feel that they are not in a tropical country. They may have lots of learning on those diseases, like Zika or dengue, so I think that our challenge is to try to get this debate going and get to some conclusions, that clarify the terminology for tropical diseases, tropical medicine, global health and international health”, she said.

Ghosh also believes another convergence is the desire that, not only them, but all other countries have, is that all people have access to the proper treatment, the proper care. For her, all people learn together how it is possible to make it real, whether by prevention or diagnostic technology, but either way, the joint efforts should be put, since they are more important than any country or research line.

Communication channels and trained researchers could be even stronger allies in the anti-vaccine movement

Asked about the anti-vaccine movement, Ghosh says there is a considerable discomfort among the society in other countries – including the US – in the sense that anti-vaccine movements have become considerably stronger, and for her, this is worrying, because we begin to see the re-emergence of diseases. “What we could do as a society is to become more vocal of why it is so dangerous to support this campaign. The society should consider both sides of the discussion. This, perhaps, is a lesson for us, as researchers, as scientists, of how often we are not using communication channels as much as we could. We use our journals, we use our scientific channels, but we don’t use the general media channels as much as we could. And we are not trained to do that, not as part of the training to become researchers and scientists, but in the example of the anti-vaccine movement, we need to be good at that, bringing our arguments through the mainstream media channels. So, that’s one area the society is really interested at: trying to upskill researchers, in having training on how they put their arguments to the wider media, the wider discussion”, she ends.