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Student campaigner nominated for tackling public health crisis

Jonathan Temple, current sixth year student at the GKT School of Medical Education, is nominated for the Dr Abbas Khan Medal for his outstanding contribution to humanitarian work.

The Dr Abbas Khan Medal was established in 2015 to provide a lasting tribute to the extraordinary humanitarian contribution of alumnus Dr Abbas Khan. Dr Khan graduated in medicine from King’s in 2006 and went on to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He tragically passed away in 2013 after he was detained for undertaking humanitarian work in Syria.

One in four British adults are now obese and morbid obesity levels have more than tripled in the last 30 years. During clinical placements and through his own research in the Institute of Liver & Digestive Health, University College London, Jonathan saw first-hand the serious health risks associated with obesity.

‘As an aspiring paediatrician, the reality that one child in every six in the UK is now obese particularly struck a chord with me. The impact of adult and childhood obesity and obesity-induced disease upon the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of millions of patients and their families across the UK is immense and the pressure this places upon our NHS, whose resources are already limited, is unsustainable.’

Although his academic interests focus on the genetic risk factors, since 2015 Jonathan has devoted much of his time outside medical school to advising the Obesity Action Campaign: a charity committed to supporting scientific research into the prevention of obesity-induced diseases, educating families and raising political awareness of obesity and its adverse health consequences.

Jonathan recognised the critical role that the medical profession could play in achieving these goals and so founded the National Student Health Programme in 2016. The programme aims to coordinate the efforts of universities across the UK and to ensure that the next generation of healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively tackle obesity throughout their working lives.

 To build momentum Jonathan has organised two national conferences which have attracted attention from across the sector. “Obesity: An Emerging Menace”, March 2017, was particularly well-attended by colleagues from the Royal Colleges of Medicine, Surgery, Pathology, Midwifery and Nursing, O&G, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust and the Director of Public Health England.

 Ann Wylie

(A talk by Dr Ann Wylie at the Guy’s & St Thomas’ conference series that Jonathan organised)

In further recognition of his contribution Jonathan has been invited to speak publicly at King’s College London, the University of Edinburgh and most recently at the British Medical Association. Jonathan is also keen to build international partnerships. He is, this month, meeting with the World Health Organisation to discuss the development of standardised training and educational resources for clinicians to tackle this epidemic globally. Speaking of his nomination, Jonathan said:

Dr Abbas Khan gave his life in the service of what he believed in and his legacy endures not only in the lives he helped to save but also in those he continues to inspire. I am very much humbled and deeply honoured to have been nominated for the award.’