By Rebecca Tremain. Time travel was the order of the day at this year’s annual Mosquito Day celebration on 20 August. ‘Sir Ronald and Lady Ross’ were joined by three of the School’s leading researchers to bring the story malaria control to life.
The action was set in 1928, 31 years after Ross’s discovery of the mosquito vector for malaria transmission, and two years before the famous ‘tiffin’ photograph that inspired staff at the Malaria Centre to re-establish Mosquito Day on the calendar.
Sir Ronald (played by actor Gary Merry) and Lady Rosa (Penelope Dimond) were reminiscing about Ross’s trip to Russia in 1912. Part of a reciprocal trip to the Duma, Ross reported back on his return that he was able to contribute ‘considerable services to the cause of tropical medicine’ whilst history shows us that the party enjoyed lavish meals, cultural events and a rapturous reception from crowds who ‘cheered themselves hoarse’ commanding Sir Ronald to “wave your top hat will you”
Thoughts of the past, which took up the first half of the entertainment, turned in the second to musings on the future and here our three time-travelling academics entered the stage. Assuming that we had all agreed to take part in a thought experiment, the actors lead the ‘volunteers’ on a discourse which covered the recent breakthrough in the development of a malaria vaccine (Professor David Schellenberg), a wider look at the history of vaccination and the place of women in science (Professor Anne Hardy of the Centre for the History of Public Health) and Dr Jo Lines (Reader of Malaria Control and Vector Biology) who gamely took on the task of contextualising both the history of elimination campaigns in Russia and beyond and advances in vector control.
Prizes were given for the best dressed guest and the most creative assembly of the School’s ‘Make a Mozzie’ kit. Guests included staff, students and colleagues past and present, including our friends from Malaria No More who brought along a bottle of “1897 Quinine Gin”, launched to coincide with Mosquito Day – a fitting way to toast Sir Ronald and his mentor Sir Patrick Manson, two pioneers of tropical medicine to whom generations past, present and future owe an immense debt of gratitude – Cheers!