Following independence of India, Primary Health centres emerged on the basis of the recommendation of the Bhore committee (1946). With the expanding public health programmes and the nation building activities, people of the country are now expected to better realize the dictum “Prevention is better than cure”. With such a short history, modern public health as a science or service is still young in India and the need for an All India Association of Public Health was not actually thought of until the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health was established at Calcutta. However, with the re-designation of Medical Services as Health Services and Establishment of Ministry of Health Services and establishment of Ministry of Health (now Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) at the Central and State Levels, the situation turned favourable for the establishment of the Indian Public Health Association as an all India body. It was inaugurated in 1956, the same year when the society for Medical Officers of Health in England celebrated their first centenary and the American Public Health Association was running 84th Year and the Canadian Association 46th year of their establishment.

A short resume of the circumstances, which finally led to the inauguration of the Indian Public Health Association, is given below along with its subsequent activities.

Birth of the Association

The first attempt was made in 1936 by the late Dr. R. B. Lal, the then Director of the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Calcutta to organise a public health association on an all India Basis and started a society under the name. The Public Health Society of Calcutta, with the active collaboration of the Sister Institute at Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine. This society functioned for about 3 years and discontinued on the intervention of the World War II. It regularly held monthly meetings with a scientific forum for discussing papers on public health interest. These papers were regularly published in the Indian Medical Gazette and finally brought out as a volume of transaction at the end of the year. It may be mentioned here that at this time an association under the name Bengal Public Health Association was functioning under the chairmanship of Lt. Col. A. C. Chatterjee, the then Director of Public Health of the State of Bengal and had also a journal. This association also became defunct due to the World War II. Following the integration of Medical Care and public health under the directorate in the State, this Association was revived under the name “Association of the Staff of the West Bengal Services”. Similar services Association were, however, brought into being in other States also.

The second attempt to bring about an All India Association in 1944 was made by Late Dr. S. C. Seal, the founder Secretary, when he joined the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health as a regular staff. An association under the name Ashok Society was established with the late Dr. R. B. Lal, Professor of Epidemiology and Ex-Director of the Institute, as its chairman. The membership was first extended to the public health officers who came to the Institute for post-graduate training from all over India with the idea of extending it further in due course to all health workers in the country through these officers. An attempt was also made to publish a monthly news bulletin. For dearth of active workers this society also failed to function.

The situation, however, turned for the better after independence between 1953 and 1954. With the help of prominent health workers of the country an appeal was issued in the newspapers by late, Dr. B. Gaguly, the then Editor of Health and Welfare of Calcutta followed by circulation of a memorandum prepared by the author. Two successive meetings with fairly large attendance under the patronage of late Dr. B. C. Roy, the then Chief cum Health Minister of Wet Bengal and doyen of the medical profession of India, were held in July 1954, in which the proposal for establishment an All India Public Health Association was approved and an interim Committee with Lt. Co. C. K. Lakshmanan, the then Director of the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Calcutta as chairman and Late Dr. S. C. Seal as its Organising Secretary, was formed. The enlistment of membership began in 1955 and thus the first largely attended meeting of these members was held on the 10th September of the same year.

Finally with the efforts and active co-operation of the members of the interim committee and with the active support of late Dr. B. C. Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, the Association was inaugurated on the 28th September 1956 by the then Union Health Minister Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Calcutta. The local dignitaries, health workers and members from all over India as well as largely attended inaugural function by a galaxy of delegates on behalf of the foreign health agencies working in India at that time. The inauguration was accompanied by a scientific session and a symposium on “Rural Health” and a health exhibition. The birth of the Association was further edified by the publication of a highly informative Souvenir on “Health of India” and the inaugural issue of the Indian Journal of Public Health- a quarterly journal.

Headquarters of the Association

Since its inception the headquarters of the Association has been placed at the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Calcutta with the concurrence and active support of the authorities of the Institute. The property and wisdom of such a selection are unquestionable; the Institute being the only and the unique centre where from emanate the knowledge of public health in India and where the best and the biggest library on public health and associated subjects and a large array of foreign and Indian Journals are available. The Association is also fortunate in having the honorary services of all faculty members & staff including Director, Professional and Administrative and other supporting staff, that normally volunteers to work for the Association and its cause. In fact, whatever achievements of the Association, which could be claimed, is undoubtedly due to close co-operation and collaboration of the entire Institute and its staff. Another advantage is AIIH & PH, School of Tropical Medicine of International fame and the Calcutta Medical College are all situated close to each other. All these institutes are equipped with big scientific library and staffs of great experience, whose guidance and assistance are available, whenever asked for.

Memorandum & Objective of the association

The present constitution cum Memorandum is the outcome of the recommendations of the Revision Sub-committee and is presented here in this compendium.

The name of the association shall be INDIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION

The registered office of the association shall be situated in the state of West Bengal and until otherwise decided by two third of the members present in the special General Body meeting, the registered office of the association shall be at 110, Chittaranjan Avenue, Calcutta, 700 073.

The goals of the association are:

  • Promotion and advancement of public health and allied sciences in India, protection and promotion of health of the people of the country, and promotion of co-operation and fellowship among the members of the association.

The objectives of the association are as follows:

  • Hold an Annual Convention and periodic meetings or conferences of members of the association and of the public health profession in general.
  • Initiate, hold, direct, manage, take part in and contribute to conferences, congress, meetings, lectures and demonstrations on any aspect of public health and social welfare for the purpose of advancing any of the objectives of the association.
  • Publish and circulate a Scientific Journal, which will be the official organ of the association, specially adapted to the needs of the administrators, programme managers and research workers in the field of public health in India.
  • Disseminate health knowledge and conduct educational campaigns among schools, colleges, cultural bodies, village organisations and other people in co-operation with different public bodies working with the same objectives by holding health exhibitions, publishing or sponsoring popular health journals, preparing and distributing literature, posters, and information about health and social welfare.
  • Encourage research in public health and social work with grants-in-aid or with grants out of the funds of the association, by establishment of scholarships, prizes or rewards and in such other manner as may from time to time be determined by the association.
  • Publish from time to time transactions and other papers embodying researches conducted by the members or under the auspices of the association.

The association can join the ‘World Federation of Public Health Associations’ (Geneva) and other allied Federations – proposed for revision

The association can establish its own building, library etc- proposed for revision.

However, the main objectives of the Association are

  • Promotion and advancement of public health and allied sciences in their different branches in India, protection and promotion of public and personal health of the people of the country and promotion of co-operation and fellowship among the members of the Association.

Some of other objectives are

  • Behavioural Science Institute and organize conferences, meetings, lectures and demonstrators in any aspect of public health and social welfare, publish in a scientific journal specially adopted to the needs of administration, research workers in public health in India, dissemination of health knowledge and conduct educational campaigns among different sections of the population, particularly on schools, colleges and cultural bodies, rural setting, encourage research in public health and raise funds for the purpose and publish transaction and other paper embodying researches conducted by the member or communicated under the auspices of the Association.