Growth of Pediatrics in Tamilnadu
Throughout the world, about a century and half ago, children were not considered as somebody who should be treated differently when illness occurs. It was in United States of America, for the first time, recognition was given to Paediatrics as a separate subject. Even Great Britain was more than fifty years behind in adopting Paediatrics as a speciality. Hence, till independence in our country, medical care of children was under Professors of adult medicine. The idea that the children are not miniature adults, took some time to dawn on medical profession.
Many of the problems seen in young children and neonates are different in nature and approach and treatment were quite different from that of adults. The focus and scope of Paediatrics, the health problems of children vary widely among the nations and problems are complex in children of the developing countries. In the developing countries which represents three quarter of humanity, many children suffer due to diseases that are attributable to poverty and poor hygiene.
Our State of Tamilnadu has the honor and pride of having created the first post of Professor of Paediatrics in India at the Madras Medical College even though there were fairly well developed Paediatric Departments in centres like Bombay, Patna and Calcutta.
The creation of the first Paediatric Department at the Government General Hospital, Chennai in the year 1948 with late Prof. S.T.Achar, a Professor of Medicine turned Paediatrician as the first Professor of Paediatrics, Madras Medical College, paved the way for the birth of the speciality of Paediatrics in Tamilnadu. Later due to the untiring combined efforts of Dr. S.T.Achar, Dr. V.Balagopal Raju and Dr. M.S.Ramakrishnan, a separate Hospital for Paediatrics at Egmore was created.
As mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, prior to 1948 there was no Paediatric Department as such and sick children were cared by the adult Physicians. It was in 1948, the first Paediatric Department in Tamilnadu was created in the Government General Hospital, Madras and Late Dr.S.T.Achar was appointed as Professor of Paediatrics, Madras Medical College and Paediatric Physician of the Government General Hospital with about 28 beds pooled from the various units of the adult physicians. To start with, the outpatient children were only 40 in number per day. Soon a post of an Assistant to the Professor and few House Physicians were sanctioned for the Paediatric Department. In 1949, the Professor was asked to supervise the Children Ward (28 beds) of Women and Children Hospital, Egmore and a Hony. Assistant Physician was posted in that ward for looking after the routine daily rounds. Since 1949, a few doctors began to join the Paediatric Department as voluntary post-graduates in order to get training and to become paediatricians – a new innovation in madras.
In 1953, Paediatric Nursing was completely reorganized, thanks to World Health Organization who has assigned this job to a specially trained Nurse of WHO. She shared the teaching and the service load and a Refresher Course for Paediatric Nurses from all over India was started in the Institute of Paediatrics as a joint venture of UNICEF, WHO and Madras Government. In 1954, a bigger ward was sanctioned with an increase of 48 beds in Main ward and 12 beds in Isolation and Typhoid wards in Government General Hospital and one more Assistant Physician was sanctioned since teaching and service activities had increased by that time.
In 1957, the department was upgraded and the Professor was appointed as whole time Director and the staff was increased to one Reader cum Paediatric Physician, 3 Assistant Physicians and 4 Hony. Assistant Physicians. The UNICEF and the WHO entered into an agreement with the Government of India to give equipment and other aids through a project known as “Madras Paediatric Project” and 4 Peripheral Paediatric Clinics were started with the help of WHO visiting Professor of Child Health. 3 Assistant Professors and 4 Public Health Nurses were sanctioned separately to run these clinics and the necessary equipments were supplied by UNICEF under the agreement.
Diploma in Child Health (DCH) and M.D., (Paediatrics) courses were started in 1957 and 1961 respectively. To start with, 12 students for DCH., and 4 for M.D. (Ped) per year were trained. In 1967 M.Ch. in Paediatric Surgery Course was started at the Madras Medical College with an annual intake of three.
In G.O.Ms.No.2243 PWD dated 26.8.1963, the Government sanctioned a sum of Rs.26.36 lakhs for construction of a Paediatric Block in the Arni House Compound attached to the Government Women and Children Hospital, Egmore for starting a separate Children’s Hospital. When the building was completed, the Government in G.O.Ms.No.750 Health dated 6.5.1968 ordered the starting of the present Government Children Hospital with 250 beds by transferring the children beds from Government General Hospital and Women and Children Hospital with sanction of necessary staff and other facilities for a separate hospital.
The Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children started functioning in its new building at Halls Road, Egmore, Madras w.e.f.15.11.1968 with Dr.V. Balagopal Raju as the Director and Superintendent.
In G.O.Ms.No. 705 Health dated 1.4.1982 sanction was accorded for the construction of a 10 storied block for the hospital. When the building was completed orders were issued in G.O.Ms.No.2272 Health dated 1.12.1986 increasing the sanctioned beds from 250 to 500 with necessary additional staff. Subsequently 37 Cardio-thoracic beds were transferred to this hospital from Government General Hospital for the Paediatric Cardio-thoracic Surgery Department thus making the sanctioned beds to 537.
The hospital has grown leaps and bounds in the last 39 years and now the Hospital and the Institute is marching ahead towards the road of progress in patient care activities and teaching and research programmes. The annual intake of M.D.(Paediatrics) is now 17, D.C.H is 35 and a good number of Diploma in National Board (Paediatrics). The annual intake for M.Ch.Paediatric Surgery continues to be three. The Institute conducts regular teaching programmes like Clinical Society Meetings, Weekly Medical Audit Meetings, Seminars, Conferences, Guest Lectures etc., for the benefit of the Post-Graduates and faculty members. Thanks to the Japanese Grant-in-Aid, the poor and needy seeking the hospital services benefit from several diagnostic, treatment and operative equipments like ventilators, monitors, infusion pumps, theatre equipments, video-endoscopic system, laprascopy and accessories. The Institute and hospital is now headed by Prof.Dr.Saradha Suresh, M.D.,DCH.,Ph.D, FRCP(Glas), as the Director and Superintendent.