Transforming disease control across Africa

Sir Brian Greenwood, an MRC-funded Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), spent 50 years of his career as a researcher in Africa. His research has influenced national and international public health policies dealing with some of the major killers of children in Africa, from malaria control across Africa to demonstrating the potential of vaccination to eliminate Haemophilus influenzae B infection.

Sir Brian spent 15 years directing what is now called MRC Unit The Gambia at the LSHTM. After noticing that people in the local villages used bed nets, he compared the rates of malaria between people who did and did not use bed nets. Using a standard bed net did reduce malaria, but insecticide-treated nets gave villagers up to 70% extra protection. Looking at a much larger group he found that using insecticide-treated nets led to a 30% reduction in child deaths. Deaths from malaria halved between 2001 and 2013, largely down to the use of insecticide-treated nets.