This year, the University lost one of its most influential leaders and champions – Dr Basil Hetzel.
Dr Hetzel, aged 94, died peacefully on 4 February 2017, leaving a positive and indelible mark on communities around the world.
His collaborative work as the head of Medicine at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and with the Papua New Guinea health research department, zeroed in on the relationship between iodine deficiency and brain damage. This made conditions such as cretinism totally preventable with the simple inclusion of iodised oil or salt in the diet of pregnant women.
That research (published from 1969 to 1971) and his tireless work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization and national governments has transformed the health outcomes of billions of people at risk of iodine deficiency disorders from more than 130 countries. The work of the organisation he founded, the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), was also central to this.
Speaking about Dr Hetzel’s contribution, UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said Dr Hetzel made a truly significant impact on world health.
“His breakthrough research into iodine deficiency, his lifelong commitment to public health on a global scale but also here at home, has been enormous.
“Basil was a man whose belief in humanity and the intrinsic dignity of mankind drove innovation and excellence in his career but also genuine care and compassion for everyone he encountered.
“He truly was a scholar and a gentleman and he will be missed by us all.”