Kent Campbell, Pivotal Determine within the Struggle In opposition to Malaria, Dies at 80


Kent Campbell, an instrumental determine within the international battle towards malaria — most notably in Africa, the place he led an modern program offering mattress nets to guard rural villagers from the mosquitoes carrying the illness — died on Feb. 20 in Oro Valley, Ariz., a suburb of Tucson. He was 80.

His demise, in a nursing care facility, was attributable to issues of most cancers, his kids stated.

As chief of the malaria department of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention from 1981 to 1993, and later as an adviser to UNICEF and the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis, Dr. Campbell is credited with serving to to save lots of lives on a number of continents.

In Zambia, the place he started engaged on a program with the Gates Basis in 2005 distributing mattress nets and newer antimalarial medicine, malaria instances had been reduce in half inside three years. This system was later expanded to greater than 40 different international locations in Africa.

“His legacy in my nation is as one of many individuals who enormously contributed to the management and prevention of malaria,” Kafula Silumbe, a Zambian public well being specialist who labored carefully with Dr. Campbell, stated in an interview. “It was a collective effort, however he positively was a part of that preliminary push.”

Tall and lanky, with a Southern drawl that exposed his Tennessee upbringing, Dr. Campbell came upon what would turn into a four-decade-long profession in public well being.

In 1972, throughout his pediatric residency in Boston, he joined the C.D.C. as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam Battle. Not lengthy after, he was despatched to Sierra Leone to assist examine an outbreak of Lassa fever, a virulent hemorrhagic virus.

“I had by no means heard of Lassa fever,” he stated in a video historical past of the C.D.C. “Most likely couldn’t even spell it if I’d been requested to.”

He had little to no coaching within the significance or use of non-public protecting gear. For reduction from the extraordinary warmth, he poked holes in his respiration equipment, which he later admitted was a nasty concept.

Hoping to be taught extra about Lassa fever, company officers dispatched him to Eire to conduct serologic, or antibody-detecting, exams on nuns who had beforehand labored in Sierra Leone. He traveled there along with his spouse, Elizabeth (Knight) Campbell, whom he had married in 1966.

A couple of days later, he practically collapsed from an intense headache, excessive fever and an excruciating sore throat.

Dr. Campbell and his spouse then traveled to London so he might be handled at a hospital with experience in tropical illnesses. The episode then took a surreal flip: When U.S. officers despatched a navy transport airplane to retrieve the couple, they included a spare Apollo house capsule, which they rode in as a precautionary measure.

“On reflection, it’s not clear whether or not I had Lassa fever,” Dr. Campbell later stated. “However clearly I didn’t die.”

With a reprieve on life and a newfound appreciation for illness searching, he stayed on with the C.D.C. He moved to El Salvador in 1973 to tackle malaria, which had been basically orphaned by international public well being companies and support teams.

“He was indignant in regards to the injustice and unfairness of issues,” Laurie Garrett, who wrote about Dr. Campbell in her ebook “The Coming Plague: Newly Rising Ailments in a World Out of Steadiness” (1994), stated in an interview. “It simply didn’t appear proper to him {that a} scourge like malaria that was killing thousands and thousands of individuals each single yr wasn’t getting funding and concern and international consideration as a result of most people dying of it had been poor.”

Carlos Clinton Campbell III was born on Jan. 9, 1944, in Knoxville, Tenn. His father was a life insurance coverage salesman, and his mom, Betty Ann (Murphy) Campbell, managed the family. His dad and mom needed to name him Clint, however his youthful sister, Ann, had hassle saying the identify, and he wound up as Kent.

He took an early curiosity in medication after his sister and mom each died from most cancers — Ann when she was 5, their mom when he was in highschool.

He studied biology at Haverford Faculty in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1966. He earned his medical diploma from Duke College in 1970 and obtained a grasp’s in public well being at Harvard College after finishing his pediatric residency there.

Dr. Campbell bounced around the globe, from the corridors of public well being to remoted villages, and again.

“He had a misleading demeanor due to his Southern, laconic exterior,” Ms. Garrett stated. “Virtually each time you’d go into his workplace, these gigantic, lengthy legs would go up on the desk and he’d lean again in his chair. And since he’s so tall, he would routinely refill, you understand, 12 toes of house.”

This made him appear easygoing.

“However then, when he bought going, you could possibly really feel every thing boiling as much as the floor,” she added. “He was extremely impatient, and I feel that drove him to ask massive questions and to take daring steps to attempt to assist issues.”

Following his work on the C.D.C., Dr. Campbell helped create a university of public well being on the College of Arizona and consulted for a number of international well being organizations. In 2005, he joined PATH, a well being fairness nonprofit primarily based in Seattle, as director of the malaria program in Africa funded by the Gates Basis.

With malaria turning into immune to the commonest drug therapies, he centered on prevention.

“The vector in Africa is principally a single species that’s distributed everywhere in the continent referred to as Anopheles gambiae,” he stated in an interview with AllAfrica, a Pan-African information group. “It’s just like the celebrity of transmitters.”

Two years after the bed-net program started in Zambia, the nation noticed a 29 p.c lower in baby mortality, in response to PATH.

“To place that in perspective: There’s nothing matching that, which is reflective of how a lot demise malaria precipitated in Zambia and the way highly effective mattress nets are to lower transmission,” Dr. Campbell advised AllAfrica. “That’s all it actually took. It was simply outstanding. Clinics emptied out in the course of the transmission season.”

Dr. Campbell is survived by his spouse; his kids, Dr. Kristine Campbell and Dr. Patrick Campbell; his brothers, Robert and John Campbell; his stepsisters, Melissa Hansen and Rebecca Arrants; and 4 grandchildren.

Dr. Campbell retired from PATH in 2015.

“I hadn’t got down to battle this an infection and illness,” he wrote of his skilled profession. “In actuality, it selected me.”

He added, “We selected to not take heed to the naysayers.”



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