I was lucky enough to be invited to the BMJ awards on Wednesday night. The awards are a chance for the journal to honour some of the wonderful work being done by doctors around the globe.
I was particularly interested in the Research Paper of the Year. Would it be the Daily Mail’s oncological ontology project, which day by day sifts the inanimate world into things that cure, or cause, cancer? Would it be the famous talking plate? Would it be an exciting new wonder drug that helped fat melt away?
Well, no. The very worthy winner showed how untold children’s lives could be saved in the developing world by a new method of treating acute malarial infection. Never heard of it? Of course not; it’s mainly about saving lives in Africa. And it doesn’t involve a new drug, just a better way of administering one we already have. So no-one’s going to make a song and dance about it.
Except the BMJ (and to be fair, the Lancet which published the paper). Many congratulations to the author, Dr Melba Gomes, and her team from the World Health Organisation. The research was complex, rigorous, difficult to do and took 10 years. It shows that using suppositories to administer the anti-malarial drug artesunate can half the chances of death or permanant disability for children with severe malaria unable to swallow or keep down tablets. In other words, it’s really important, and everyone should know about it.
Sometimes I feel very proud to be a BMJ employee. Wednesday night was one of those occasions.