In the context of historical development of public health in India, the need for a national forum of public health workers on all India basis was strongly felt under the auspicious of Indian Public Health Association, not only for academic discussion on public health and orient the health functionaries about the new developments, but also to suggest measures for improvement of health services through the lessons learnt from sharing of experiences. The concept of such an association was first mooted out at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Calcutta, in 1935. But most of the health staff was working under government or municipalities, when permission of Government was necessary to create such an association. This permission was denied until the Independence. So, the Institute had to remain satisfied with establishment of its Alumni association only. After 1948, Dr. Ganguly and Dr. S.C. Seal (Organizing Secretary) renewed the movement and finally the INDIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION was formed. Its first meeting was inaugurated, on 29th September 1956, by the Union Health Minister Smt. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, in the presence of large number of national and international dignitaries in the field of public health. The uniqueness of this association is, it comprises of members from medical, dental, Engineering, Nursing, Veterinary sciences, Sociology, Statistics or Behavioral & allied sciences, who were considered as a professional of Public Health.
The members of IAPH since its inception have effectively contributed in communicable disease control, & disease prevention. Due to the demographic, epidemiological, social and economic transition in the region the emerging health problems are of different nature. The health problems include both emerging diseases like cardiovascular, Accidents, Substance abuse, Mental disorders, geriatric disorders along with the old problems of RCH and communicable disease like malaria and as well as emerging communicable diseases like AIDS and other infectious diseases. A health problem becomes a public health responsibility if or when it is of such character or extent as to be amenable to solution through systematized social action. Its relative importance varies with the hazard to the population exposed. The hazards may be quantitative, in terms of disability & death; quantitative in term of proportion of population affected, it may be actual or potential. Many problems can be classified as public health problems, and public health problems and challenges can be classified in many ways. The classification begins with the task of sorting out what the actual issues, questions, and challenges are before too much effort is spent solving the wrong problem. The challenge for public health practitioners is to cope with conflicting priorities for improving the health of populations, and the increasing need to show that potential solutions are not just effective, but are also cost effective. As the scope of public health challenges broadens, for example with the development of the new genetics and the reemergence of infectious diseases, it becomes impossible for any one individual to have a complete grasp of the knowledge needed to identify, analyze and tackle the problems that influences their populations’ health. Public health practitioners’ therefore need a broad range of skills and selective depth in specialist knowledge areas. Public health practitioners need to be skilled at finding and appraising sources of knowledge. The focus of public health specialist on a population and its health needs should persist, even while other professional groups are specializing and sub specializing to cope with the exponential growth of knowledge. An underrated task of public health specialist is that of turning complex and seemingly messy issues into solvable problems. Skills to find and assess the knowledge that underpins problem solving are carefully examined. Deciding on the most appropriate public health action almost always involves difficult, but important choices. This approach used in addressing the value of such issues is to be examined and the importance of ethics cannot be avoided in such decision-making.
It is imperative that the present day public health specialists of the 21st. century have to improve old skills, and learn new skills, all of which are needed to address the big public health challenges, both local and global. It is also a fact that most of the public health intervention taken around the world including India involves simultaneous fire-fighting of multiple real and or perceived threats to public health. Therefore many professional begins tasks with the scooping of apparent problems, rather than with the prior and more theoretical assessment of real ones. With the emerging ecological, social political and demographic changes the public health needs have drastically changed. Some of the public health problems have been contained but there is an emergence of a newer variety with a vengeance. The role of public health teachers and practitioner has become critical for addressing the current and future challenges. Like any of the big task facing us the public health practitioners of to day, need clarity of purpose and attention to details. This requires the skill of data handling, generating evidence and communication. (So it has become mandatory for the public health practitioners to improve old skills and learn new skills, all of which are needed to address the big public health challenges, both local & global. to be deleted as it is repetitive) The members of the IPHA are seized with the present day public health problem mentioned above. The members felt that a combined effort of the public health academia and public health practitioner is essential to arrest the gradual decline of public health standards as well as popularize evidence based public health practice and to stem out the current practice of cut & paste public health program which results in wastage of valuable resources with disastrous effect of re-emergence of the problems with a different public health dimension. The other area of concern is to strengthen the present day teaching & training of public health and make it more competence based. In the last IPHA Annual conference the members deliberated on the issue and an Academic Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the Ex- Secretary General Prof. Sandeep Ray. The committee discussed the matter threadbare and proposed formation of Indian Academy of Public Health to address the above concern under the auspicious of IPHA. This will be a platform to encourage the public health specialist to study the evolution and contemporary development of public health, perfecting the methods of developing evidence based health intervention as per the health needs and improving the administration of the comprehensive health care package universally. Furthermore it was also felt that elected body does have sufficient time to deal with the above matter explicitly. Therefore Academic Committee proposed the formation of such forum and given responsibility to Prof Faruq U Ahmed, Honorary Fellow of the Association and advisor Academic Committee to make draft with the following objectives