Pioneer in tropical medicine and primary health care

Born: April 5, 1936;

Died: October 1, 2019

DR Ian Fleming Marie Saint-Yves, who has died aged 83, was a pioneer in tropical medicine and primary health care in Scotland and around the world.

He was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, the only son of Eric and Catherine, from a lineage of French colonialists and the Scottish professional class. He started school at the Jesuit college of St Joseph's in Darjeeling making the regular return train journey during the time of India's independence movement. The Jesuit values of equality and compassion and his witness of the struggle for self-determination at this early age formed his lifelong commitment to social justice in his work and fight for Scottish independence.

From St Joseph's, to Scots College in Perth, Western Australia and then Glasgow Academy, Ian grew his love of rugby and rowing. It was while studying medicine at Glasgow University, and captain of the University Boat Club, that he met the great love of his life: a nursing sister called Marguertie Stewart (Margot). Margot and Ian married in 1963 and honeymooned in Paris and Brittany, where the Saint-Yves clan descended.

In terms of driving life-forces, education was his greatest passion as demonstrated in his own lifelong learning (illustrated by the letters following his name) and the plethora of articles published in medical journals. Mostly it was evidenced by his work in primary health prevention in the areas of tropical medicine and epidemiology.

From1964 to 1969, he and his family lived in the Australian Territory of Papua New Guinea. His first postings were as the obstetrician/gynaecologist and hospital superintendent in Lae, and then district medical officer for the Sepik district based in Wewak. It was during this period Ian's pioneering work in malaria eradication and prevention was founded. Following WHO training in Manila and India, Ian returned as Papuan regional malariologist and became consultant in charge of the territory's malaria eradication programme in Port Moresby.

From this foundation, Ian was appointed in 1969 as founding Commanding Officer, Major, of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps' new malaria research unit based at Sydney University, and member of the Armed Forces Malaria Advisory Board (at the time of the Vietnam War).

He undertook further training in experimental malariology at the Walter Read Army Institute of Research, Washington D.C. and, with Emeritus Professor Karl Rieckmann, training in human volunteer experimentation at various American and civil and malaria research centres.

Before resigning from the Army, Ian designed the new malaria research laboratory at Ingleburn Barracks, New South Wales. From 1973 to 1976 he was WHO malaria epidemiologist and advisor to the Malaria Eradication Programme of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. Here, he gained his M.D. for a thesis relating to population growth to the success of the malaria programme.

For 20 years (from the mid-1970s to the mid-90s), he redirected his career to population health from a primary health care approach from being a principal GP (Scotland) to various roles as a director/consultant of epidemiology (Austalia's Northern Territory, Saudi Arabia) and chief/head of community and preventive health (Australia's Pilbara, Saudi Arabia).

Key achievements include establishing in 1984 the NT AIDS Surveillance and Health Care support system, implementing the Read Codes and ICD-IO throughout the Scottish NHS in 1990 and implementing public health prevention and infection control systems and training across three Saudi hospitals and 14 military establishments.

Upon his retirement on the Isle of Arran, Ian became fully engaged in current affairs as a prolific published writer of "letters to the editor" and in the fight for Scottish independence. He was thrilled to see Scottish self-government in his lifetime and to be one of the handful of votes in the electorate that put the Scottish National Party in to power for the first time.

In his final years he published his autobiography Snapshots of a Journey and his historically significant archive of photos from the PNG and Solomons titled From the Tribal to the Modern World.

He leaves a legacy of the honour in public service, the noble pursuit of intellectual inquiry and understanding the innate dignity of every person regardless of status, class, race, sex, gender, ability and sexuality.

He died on the Isle of Arran from Alzhiemer's disease and is survived by his wife Margot, and his children Ewan and Michelle.