Tim BlackBMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h459 (Published 02 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h459
- Anne Gulland, London
Tim Black’s career was driven by his desire to broaden access to family planning services throughout the world. He founded Marie Stopes International in the mid-1970s, and pioneered a non-medicalised approach to family planning, putting services in the hands of nurses and midwives, and, later, community health workers.
Black’s epiphany came as a young doctor in a remote part of Papua New Guinea in the mid-1960s, when he proudly handed a child whose life he had saved back to its mother. She was a sex worker who had several other children to feed, and he realised by the look of despair on her face that he had handed her a problem.
Recalling the event years later, he said: “I suddenly realised that I had presented her not just with her baby, but with another mouth to feed—another dependent human being to whom she could offer nothing: no father, no education, no future—merely the cruel ritual of her bare survival.”
He returned to the UK and completed a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He then went to the University of North Carolina as a Ford fellow, where he gained a masters degree in population dynamics in 1969. It was there that he met fellow …