Skip Navigation

Tributes to Dr Sylvia Meek

17 May 2016

The Malaria Consortium’s Global Technical Director passed away on 12th May 2016, after an 18-month battle with cancer. Tributes have emerged from the malaria community worldwide


Several names from the malaria and global health communities have expressed their condolences:

Charles Nelson, Cheif Executive, Malaria Consoritum

It is with deep sorrow that we must announce the passing of Dr Sylvia Meek, Malaria Consortium’s Global Technical Director, on 12th May 2016, after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Sylvia’s contribution to the fight against infectious disease, and malaria in particular, through her own, and Malaria Consortium’s work, cannot be overstated.

Originating from Hull in Northeast England, Sylvia had a passion for the environment and disease control that led her to study Zoology at Oxford and later Animal Parasitology at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, followed by a PhD in mosquito genetics and control at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Her research at the London School laid some of the early foundations for current work on what are now termed ‘Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes’.

Sylvia’s work with the World Health Organization took her around the world, including periods in the Solomon Islands, Namibia and Cambodia – during which time she gained the nickname ‘Mosquito Sylvia’. She also worked with the World Food Programme and the United Nations Development Programme setting up and running disease control programmes for 200,000 refugees. Much of her work involved providing technical advice, especially on programme and strategy development. Most recently, Sylvia has been a highly-valued member of the WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee, where she helped drive some of the key policy changes related to malaria control and elimination.

In 2003, Sylvia was one of those instrumental in transitioning Malaria Consortium from a collaborative Department for International Development resource centre to the evidence-based, health research and implementation charity we are today.  She had a vision to reach the most vulnerable and bridge the gaps in health systems where they were weakest, whether those gaps were between research and implementation, facility and community, or public and private sectors, with interventions based on evidence and good science.

Since the outset of Malaria Consortium, and before, Sylvia’s passion and commitment have touched and shaped many people in many countries, both directly and indirectly. Her contributions to the sector have been felt by partners and governments alike, and led to policy changes that have saved countless lives.

At a personal level, I can say it no better than to quote one of her dear friends and colleague, Dr Jeffrey Hii: ‘Sylvia’s impact on Malaria Consortium and associates was, and continues to be, immense. She was an inspiration and everything we could ever admire in our profession and our personal lives. Sylvia's values will be carried on by those she mentored, collaborated with and taught, and her inspiration has instilled a generation of malaria programme staff and entomologists in Solomon Islands, Greater Mekong Subregion, sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. She will be remembered for her subtle sense of humour, her enormously infectious curiosity and enthusiasm, her friendship and kind and generous nature.’

We at Malaria Consortium are committed to carrying forward the legacy she has left us to touch the lives of those who need help the most. Sylvia, we will miss you greatly.


Professor Anne Mills, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Dr Sylvia Meek, Global Technical Director of Malaria Consortium, a former colleague and Honorary Senior Lecturer at our School, died on Wednesday from cancer.

Sylvia was very well known and respected for her contributions to malaria control all over the world. She had more than 35 years' experience working on malaria and related vector-borne disease control, as well as child health programmes. From 1994, she set up and led the DFID Resource Centre for Malaria Control, a partnership with our School and Liverpool. Joining Malaria Consortium in 2003, she very ably led its work in Nigeria, Uganda, South Sudan and Mozambique, as well as contributing to strategies for artemisinin resistance containment and elimination in Southeast Asia.

Throughout her career, Sylvia kept in close touch with colleagues here and made many contributions to the School - indeed she was hoping to take part in our recent Malaria Centre retreat. Professors Joanna Schellenberg and Brian Greenwood are both trustees of the Malaria Consortium and have thus had an opportunity to observe at first hand her major contribution to the work of the consortium and to malaria in general across the world. 

Sylvia will be greatly missed, and our thoughts and condolences are with her family. Please send any personal messages to this email account and we will ensure they are passed on.


Dr. Pedro Alonso, World Health Organization

Colleagues across WHO are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr Sylvia Meek, who died on 11 May after an 18-month battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at the Malaria Consortium, where she served for many years as Global Technical Director.

Sylvia was member of the WHO family in the early years of her career, working in Cambodia, Solomon Islands and Namibia. She played a critical role, since that time, on a number of WHO advisory committees focused on the control and elimination of malaria.

As a highly valued and dedicated member of the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee since its establishment in 2011, Sylvia contributed strategic advice on a breadth of technical areas, particularly on vector control, case management and programme management. Last year, she ably chaired the Evidence Review Group on conditions for the use of PBO long-lasting insecticidal nets. WHO will remember her outstanding leadership on such a technically and politically complex issue.

Sylvia was an extraordinary leader. She had a rare combination of strategic vision, solid technical expertise and extensive field experience that was widely recognized by her peers at WHO and across the malaria community. She will be deeply missed. 


Further information: