Dr Adrian Hopkins yesterday received the John Holt Medal, awarded to distinguished alumni of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s (LSTM) Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. Dr Hopkins distinguished career has taken him from a Mission Society in Zaire to the Directorship of the Mectizan Donation Program. Last night in Liverpool following a talk on a river blindness control programme, Dr Hopkins was awarded the distinguished medal for his work in relation to river blindness.
Graduating from St Andrew’s University in 1971, Adrian undertook a number of internships and residencies in the UK for training purposes as it was his intention, even at that early stage of his career, to work in a bush situation in Africa. In 1975, to further his plan, Adrian studied the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene at LSTM where gained valuable knowledge to equip him for his time in Africa for the next 34 years.
Dr Hopkins’ first post was as a Medical Officer with the Baptist Missionary Society in Zaire in 1974. Based mostly at a mission hospital in Pimu, a remote village in tropical rainforest, serving a population of 150,000 which was once described as “too rural” for the Rural Health Programme by USAID consultants, Dr Hopkins also discovered talents as a mechanic and engineer to maintain the basic services to keep the hospital running.
It was during his time in Pimu that Dr Hopkins developed his interest in ophthalmology. The interest rapidly grew, particularly with the arrival of the airstrip which enabled an outreach surgical service to expand to an area almost as large as England.
In 1992 Dr. Hopkins joined the Christian Blind Mission based in the Central African Republic with whom he worked until 2007. Initially he was the Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Health to set up the “National Programme for Onchocerciasis Control and Blindness Prevention”. The Technical Adviser’s role was to plan and manage the National Programme and despite the civil war and continuing unrest from 1996 onwards treatment increased from zero to almost 1 million patients before Dr Hopkins handed the role over to a National Director in 1999.
Recent developments involving approaches for rapid impact for some of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) has led the Christian Blind Mission to become an implementing partner for the National NTD Programme in Burundi, a programme grafted on to the existing African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC).
In 2008 he became Director of the Mectizan Donation Program based in Atlanta, USA. This is a perfect role for him as it enables him to interact with policymakers and with his vast amount of field experience he is a valuable asset. The role also provides him with the opportunity to keep in close contact with his beloved Africa. Dr. Hopkins continues his collaboration with LSTM via his links with the Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD).
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Notes to Editors
The John Holt Medal
The John Holt Medal is named after the Merchant Shipowner from Liverpool who traded widely with West Africa. In the late 19th century Holt and his contemporaries campaigned for the setting up of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine at a time when hospital wards in Liverpool were seeing increasing numbers of seamen with tropical disease, due to increased trade between Liverpool and Africa. In honour of his support LSTM introduced the John Holt Medal, awarded to distinguished alumni of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s (LSTM) Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been engaged in the fight against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases for more than a hundred years and continues that tradition today with a research portfolio in excess of £145 million and a teaching programme attracting students from over 70 countries.