Neglected tropical diseases

Obituary
Professor Tsutomu Takeuchi

27 March 2018 | Geneva -- It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing on 20 March 2018 of Professor Tsutomu Takeuchi – a renowned Japanese parasitologist and a Professor Emeritus at Keio University in Japan, whose passion for control of parasitic diseases led to the birth of the global momentum for elimination and control of neglected tropical diseases as diseases of poverty.

During the 1997 G7 summit, Professor Takeuchi assisted former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in introducing the Hashimoto Initiative for Global Parasite Control, the first global initiative to demand international cooperation around parasitic disease control through research and programme support.

This was based on his experience in observing Japan’s aggressive domestic campaign against soil-transmitted helminths, lymphatic filariasis, malaria and schistosomiasis immediately following the end of World War II, an initiative which led to the elimination of all these diseases as public health threats just within 10 years; Professor Takeuchi firmly believed that the Japanese experience could benefit the greater global community.

His pioneering efforts helped bring global attention to soil-transmitted helminths, which until then had little public visibility. Japan being the hosts of the 2000 and 2008 G8 summits, Professor Takeuchi continued to assist the Government of Japan in further accelerating its commitments to infectious disease control through the 2000 Okinawa Infectious Disease Initiative and the 2008 Tokyo Framework for Action on Global Health. This led to continuous and increased global momentum towards control and elimination of parasitic and other tropical diseases as a way to alleviate poverty in endemic countries, and was instrumental in the eventual launch of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases in WHO in 2005. To mark such contribution, Professor Takeuchi served as one of the first members of the WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Neglected Tropical Diseases, since its establishment in 2007 until 2009.

Throughout his career, Professor Takeuchi hold several prominent positions, including Chairman of the Japanese Society of Parasitology and of the Japanese Society of Tropical Medicine. He was also a former Director of the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University, and a specially appointed professor at the Graduate School of Public Health at St Luke’s International University in Japan. He was also a member of the Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London, a visiting fellow in the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) and an advisor to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.