Intended for healthcare professionals


Michael Latham

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 11 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2969
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. ns{at}

Global nutrition expert and breast feeding advocate

As a child Michael Latham knew exactly what he wanted to do in life. Growing up in the 1930s in Tanganyika, now part of Tanzania, and speaking both his native English and Swahili, he was a keen observer of his father, a doctor in the British colonial service. “From early childhood my goal was always to attend medical school and then to return to Tanzania to do the kind of exciting and humanitarian medical and public health work that as a schoolboy in Africa I saw my father doing,” he recently wrote. “To this day, I think that my most meaningful, educational and significant job was in the six years I spent as a ‘Bush Doctor’ running a hospital, doing surgery, obstetrics, and everything—and being responsible for the public health services in a large district.”

Fluent Swahili

He left Tanzania in 1964 to teach at Harvard University School of Public Health and in 1968 joined Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. But for the rest of his life he regularly visited Africa, never wavering in his battle to improve nutrition and healthcare on the continent he loved and …

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