Before independence, medical and health services in the country were basically managed by the British officers. Alter independence, in 1947, the entire responsibility fell on the shoulder of Indian medical and health personnel. During British rule, curative and preventive services ran separately. Due to resource and personnel constrains, preventive services were at disadvantage. With the growing influence of specialisations in clinical subjects, manpower development for preventive medicine was hampered. There was hardly any organised body of scientists/professionals in the field of Public Health. In this scenario, the Society was born in 1950 with the efforts of Lt. Col. Jaswant Singh, the then Director of Malaria Institute of India, Delhi.
In a meeting held at the Malaria Institute of India (now National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi) on 18-20th May, 1950 the malaria workers in India resolved to form a Society which made a humble beginning in 1950 as ‘The National Society of India for Malaria and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases”. It was registered on Sept. 20, 1950 under Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
On achieving near eradication of malaria from the country the Govt. of India (GoI) converted the Malaria Institute of India into National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
The main object of such change-over was to stimulate research, training and dissemination of knowledge not only on mosquito-borne diseases but also other communicable diseases.
In context to these changes, the general body meeting of the Society held on 20th May, 1964, resolved to rename the Society as “The Indian Society for Malaria and Other Communicable Diseases”, a name by which it is currently known. The Society is now a registered body of scientists, researchers and professionals engaged in research and control of communicable diseases. Thus the expanded aims and objects of the Society include.
1) holding annual and other scientific conferences for dissemination of knowledge and exchange of information amongst the scientists on problems afflicting the country, 2) conferring Fellowship to its members who contributed to the cause of public health and research in the field of communicable diseases, 3) awarding Honorary Fellowship to outstanding International scientists in recognition of their contribution in the field of communicable diseases. The Society has completed over five decades of its life. It has been able to attract members from all parts of the country and also from abroad. Currently society has more than 1100 life members.
Scientific contributions of the members published in the society’s bulletin/journal accelerated the governmental action to launch various disease control programmes in the country. Lt.Col. Jaswant Singh, the first president of the society reported India’s efforts in the development of malaria control schemes in various states, railways, irrigation and other multipurpose projects during war and subsequent years. He and his colleague L.M. Bhattachaji developed the famous J.S.B. (Jaswant Singh-Bhattacharji) stain a rapid staining process of blood smears. It was recognised by the Society, that the existing technology of malaria control is inadequate particularly in view of vector resistance to the insecticides and drug resistance of the parasite (Plasmodium falciparum). The need for intensified research to find out new additional tools was emphasized. The efforts of our members in this aspect led to the recognition by GOI and ICMR and resulted to the formation of Modified Plan of Operation under the able leadership of Dr. S. Pattanayak and formation of a task force on malaria research by the ICMR in 1977. The Society feels proud to mention that a team of members (Rai Chowdhuri and others) was first in the country to successfully cultivate in-vitro, an Indian strain of P.falciparum. The importance of filariasis as public health problem in India was brought out by the tireless work of Lt. Col. Jaswant Singh and Dr. N.G.S. Raghvan. The adoption of Litomosodies carinii, a natural parasite in cotton rat, as a very ideal model, published in the Society’s journal, was a major breakthrough for screening various anti-filarials and for studying host- parasite relationship. Dr. Raghvan piloted the first field project for the control of filaria in Orissa from 1953 to 1958. This paved the way for launching the National Filaria Control Programme in 1958. The risk of yellow fever introduction in the country received the attention of the Society. Consequently, GoI set-up a yellow fever vaccine unit at Central Research Institute, Kasauli. Society members contributed wholeheartedly to the national efforts of eradicating small-pox. As a result the country was declared small-pox free by the World Health Organization on July 5, 1975. Dr.M.I.D. Sharma and a band of dedicated workers largely drawn out of the members of the society, worked tirelessly to make this campaign a success. Next on agenda was guinea worm infection which was prevalent in seven states of India should be taken up for eradication. The time for starting the programme was also appropriate since this could be linked with the programme of International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. Due to efforts of our members, the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP) was accepted by GoI and launched in 1983-84. The last case of guinea worm was reported from Jodhpur district, Rajasthan during July 1996. World Health Organization certified India as guinea worm disease free country in February 2000. Eradication of small pox and guinea worm disease led to launching of Yaws Eradication Programme (YEP). The programme achieved Nil yaws case status during 2004 and yaws elimination was formally declared by Hon’ble HFM Dr.Anbumani Ramadoss on 19th September 2006. It will be appropriate to get advertisements of products like biomedical equipment, diagnostic kits, fine chemicals, research equipment etc. This will help our members to get informed of the source of availability of these products for their research and field works.