Obituary: Chesmal Siriwardhana

It is with deep sadness that I must tell you our colleague Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana, Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health, died on Sunday following a collision on Oxford Street.

Chesmal joined the School in 2016, conducting research on global mental health, supervising PhD students and contributing to the MSc in Global Mental Health. Both his teaching and research were of the highest quality and he made a real difference to the Centre for Global Mental Health. His work on armed conflict, migration and mental health put him at the forefront of some of the major public health challenges of the day. His research helped to improve understanding on mental health needs and the effectiveness of mental health services for conflict-affected persons, particularly in Sri Lanka. He also sought to improve research practice, leading a research study on improving ethical research standards in humanitarian crises. Chesmal was a deeply valued friend, colleague and mentor.

Our sincere condolences go to Chesmal’s family and friends.

Details of arrangements to commemorate Chesmal’s life and work will be shared in due course. At this time, all messages for the family may be sent c/o Lindsay Melling, Faculty of Epidemiology and Public Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT. Any comments on this blog will also be passed onto Chesmal’s family.

Peter Piot

Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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Next PSG seminar: 25 April

The next seminar in the PSG seminar series will be given by PSG’s own Emma Wilson:

Title: e-STI testing and results service: a single blind, randomised controlled trial

When: 1pm, Tuesday 25th April 2017

Where: Bradford Hill room (LG8), LSHTM, Keppel Street

All welcome!

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‘Menopause, culture and health’ seminar co-organised by PSG and LSE

Rebecca Sear, of PSG, and Tiziana Leone, LSE, are co-organising a one-day British Society for Population Studies meeting on ‘Menopause, culture and health’; Wednesday 24 May, at LSE. The meeting is free but registration is required. More details, including how to register and preliminary programme, available here.

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PIC scholarship fund for MScs in Population Studies

The Population Investigation Committee has a scholarship fund which provides fully-funded MSc scholarships for Home/EU students planning a career in demographic research, or in an area where demographic skills are a necessity. More information on the scheme is available here.

Applicants to both MSc Demography & Health and MSc Reproductive & Sexual Health Research who meet the criteria are eligble to apply for these awards. Please contact the MSc course director Lynda Clarke for details. Applications must be submitted by the end of May.

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New scholarships available to fund scholars from sub-Saharan Africa on LSHTM’s MSc programmes

The Sir Andrew Witty GSK Scholarships are now available to fund 30 scholars over the next 10 years from sub-Saharan Africa on LSHTM’s MSc programmes.

Established as a result of a £1.3 million gift to the School from GSK, this fund will play an important role in supporting the next generation of public and global health leaders in Africa. Scholars will be equipped with the expertise to improve health services in their countries and communities, and strengthen the continent’s capacity to respond to the important and changing health challenges it faces.

The scholarships have been announced in recognition of Sir Andrew Witty’s leadership and achievements upon his retirement from GSK. Three scholarships will be available each year over a 10-year period, which mirrors the length of Sir Andrew’s tenure as CEO.

All LSHTM MScs are eligible for these scholarships, including PSG’s MSc in Demography & Health and MSc Reproductive & Sexual Health Research.

See the School’s website for further details.

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Winning the war on global health issues means leading from the front

richard-smithBy Professor Richard Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak killed over 11,000 people. It devastated communities, sparked global panic, and brought national health systems to a stand-still. The human and economic cost was enormous.

While there were pockets of success in tackling the outbreak, there’s strong consensus that a lack of leadership contributed to its spread. This was confirmed in an analysis of the global response to the epidemic by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Managing this and other disease outbreaks requires effective leadership skills across all levels of the health system and sectors of society – decision-making at a global level; diplomacy at regional and national levels; negotiation for the frontline coordination of care, and engagement within communities to stop transmission. In the case of Ebola, it could be argued that there was failure, to some degree, across the board.

The world woke up, the response to the Zika virus outbreak showed lessons had been learnt, but this issue is not confined to major disease outbreaks. There is an urgent need for strong, thoughtful, cross-sectoral leadership, from top to bottom, in health systems across the globe – a demand which the School aims to help meet.

Our recently launched Executive Global Health Leadership Programme will support health leaders to develop their skills, improving health and well-being for the populations they serve. During the 10-month Programme, global health leaders will share their expertise and experience, explaining how they overcame major challenges.

Experts will deliver workshops on self-leadership, regional leadership and operating on the global stage. Fellows will develop key skills including communicating with impact, global health diplomacy, negotiation and influencing with integrity. The Programme will generate a dedicated and highly-skilled network of health leaders with strong links to institutions such as the School and its many global partners.

One person can’t stop the next Ebola outbreak in its tracks or solve the obesity crisis. But they can develop and execute effective systems which give others the weapons with which to fight major health issues, from maximising support for ‘on the ground’ medical teams to boosting international research collaborations.

Strong global leaders are key to keeping us and future generations safe and healthy.

For more information on the programme and to apply, visit the Executive Global Health Leadership Programme webpage. For any enquiries please email 

Collection of the Month for April – George Macdonald

April 25th is Malaria Day, and as a result, the collection of the month here at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine archives is the Macdonald Collection. George Macdonald was born in 1903 in Sheffield, the son of J Smyth Macdonald (Professor of physiology). George Macdonald went on to studies at Liverpool and London, and later roles included research assistant and research officer. While Macdonald was working in India as Principal Medical Officer for a tea estate, his work caught the attention of Sir Malcolm Watson who recruited Macdonald to be Assistant Director of the Ross Institute in 1937.


George Macdonald


His interest was primarily in malaria, and more specifically its epidemiology and control (his book, ‘The Epidemiology and Control of Malaria’ was released in 1957) but was also keen on the mathematical analysis of malaria.

Macdonald 04

Book review news clipping of Macdonald’s book ‘The Epidemiology and Control of Malaria’ published 1957, from GB 0809 Macdonald /04


The Macdonald Collection at the archives includes material of Professor George Macdonald from his time as Director at the Ross Institute, as well as personal items including diaries and photo albums.

During the Second World War, Macdonald was part of the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Brigadier, where he was in command of the 1st Malaria Field Laboratory in the Middle East. He assisted with the prevention of malaria through inspections of malaria field laboratories, and through use of insecticides. In 1945, Macdonald returned to teach tropical hygiene at the Ross Institute, where in 1947 he succeeded Sir Malcolm Watson as Director. At the same time of this promotion, Macdonald was also appointed as the first Professor of Tropical Hygiene at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Macdonald 03

Mosquito netting, photograph from Macdonald’s photo album GB 0809 Macdonald /03


Professor Macdonald held many accolades, including Honorary Malariaologist to the War Office and being a recipient of the Darling prize for Malaria.

In December 1967, Professor George Macdonald died.

If you are interested in learning more of Professor George Macdonald or visiting the archive, please contact us at

Resources used outside of LSHTM archives:

Malaria Control in Mobile Warfare. Italian Campaign 1943-1945, Lieutenant-Colonel A.W.S Thompson, O.B.E., M.B., M.R.C.P., D.P.H., Royal Army Medical Corps.

World Health Organization, The Darling Foundation,

Reference-based MI for Negative Binomial discrete data

Statistical analyses of recurrent event data have typically been based on the missing at random assumption (MAR) along with constant event rate. These treat the number of events as having a Negative Binomial distribution with an offset term which is the log of the length of time observed. One implication of this is that, if data are collected only when patients are on their randomized treatment, the resulting de jure estimator of treatment effect corresponds to the situation in which the patients adhere to this regime throughout the study. For confirmatory analysis of clinical trials, analyses are required that investigate alternative de facto estimands that depart from this assumption.

The macro described in this section parallels those available elsewhere in this section for continuous data but is based on the assumption of a Gamma-Poisson process underlying the classic Negative Binomial analysis. A detailed description of the methodology is presented in Keene, O.N., Roger, J.H., Hartley, B.F., and Kenward, M.G. (2014). Missing data sensitivity analysis for recurrent event data using controlled imputation. Pharmaceutical Statistics, 13, 4, 258-264. This macro implements the methods described there.

As implemented here the approach assumes that the event rate is constant across time. What it does do is allow for frailty in the event rate across patients. To move away from the assumption of constant event rate one might
a) Extend this approach by breaking up the time period into a series of periods with separate constant rates.
b) Follow a more general time-to-event approach as described by Akacha et al (2015).

List of files/folders that can be downloaded NegBin_PMI_20150914.
1) NegBin_PMI26.SAS: The file containing the macro itself. See the header of this file for details of usage.
2) Demo_NegBinMI_1.SAS: A SAS program file running an example as described by Roger & Akacha at the PSI 2014 conference.
3) Demo_NegBinMI_1.MHT: The output from running this demonstration file.
4) Demo_NegBinMI_1.LOG: The log file from running this demonstration file.
5) PSI2014_6A_Roger_Akacha.pdf: The slides from the PSI meeting which describe the example and outline the two approaches and their connection.

This page was written by James Roger ( ).

1 – 7 April 2017

Reuters cover research led by James Milner that found a moderate change in typical Indian diets could benefit both health and the environment. In the article James says: “In India, the proportion of freshwater available for agricultural production may already be unsustainably high. Modest dietary changes could help meet the challenge of developing a resilient food system in the country.” The article generates coverage in over 50 outlets across India, including in NDTV, The Hindu, Deccan Herald and The Hindustan Times and Factor Daily.  

Jimmy Whitworth is quoted by CNN in article detailing seven reasons we’re more at risk than ever from a global pandemic: “We’re only as secure in the world as the weakest country. […] “Infectious diseases respect no boundaries [and] there are little clusters of outbreaks occurring all the time, all over the place.” The CNN article generates content in regional outlets across the United States and Jimmy’s comments are also published by the International Business Times.

Australia’s ABC Radio National interviews Martin McKee on the impact populist politics has on public health: “The example of vaccination exemplifies this perfectly. In the US & Australia, you have people campaigning to refuse to have their children immunised, which poses a danger for everybody because if you’re going to control a disease you to need to have very high levels of immunisation.”

Val Curtis speaks to the Daily Mail Online on bathroom hygiene, offering this advice: “Carefully washing your hands with soap after using the toilet will help to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading around the bathroom.”

AllAfrica cover the launch of a large clinical trial of candidate Ebola vaccines in West Africa by the PREVAC international research consortium, which includes the School.

Martin McKee writes a blog for the BMJ on the future of UK health and science now that Article 50 has been formally triggered: “Most attention has focused on withdrawal from the European Medicines Agency, which will have to move from London, will delay access to innovative medicines in the NHS, and damage the UK pharmaceutical industry.”

The Daily Mail profile Marmite following research linking the spread to improved brain health. The article references School research that showed Marmite has no repellent effect on mosquitoes.   

Following a recent study into mobile phone hygiene, the Daily Express reference a School study from 2011 showing one in six smartphones was found to have traces of faecal matter.