Origin of I.F.R.S.
Rural surgery as we define now, has existed ever since man has been treated for illness. After all, simply put, rural surgery is the affordable surgical care nearer the homes of patients. The progress of times, the medical sciences, changes in the philosophy of commerce and increased importance given to the earning more money has marginalized the poor and the rural communities from the benefits of advanced medical and surgical care. Yet as in the past, there now are some dedicated doctors and surgeons who function as rural surgeons, in almost all the countries, barring some.
In India, the professional body of surgeons was more interested in promoting the advances in surgery, irrespective of its affordability by the common man. Needs of rural communities and the poor received only the lip sympathy. This attitude continued for years until one President of the Association of Surgeons of India (ASI), Dr. Rangabhashyam thought that ASI must look in to the needs of its rural surgeon members. Succeeding president Dr. Udwadia highlighted the importance of rural surgery for the country. Interest of ASI ended there.
At such a time, Dr. Balu Sankaran, retired Director General of Health Services of India and Dr. N.H.Antia, pioneer plastic surgeon and member of advisory body for national health policies joined hands with the rural surgeons and launched the Association of Rural Surgeons of India (ARSI) in November 1992. Starting of ARSI was hailed by many senior surgeons from India and abroad. Many surgeons from far away countries like Australia US and Canada even became Overseas members of ARSI.
ARSI promotes need based, affordable, multi-speciality surgical care, with available manpower and infrastructures in rural communities and in poor urban communities. It believes that with the basic qualification of medicine like M.B.,B.S. it is possible to perform life saving, and important emergency surgical procedures from all the branches of surgery.
The German Society for Tropical Surgery (DTC) evinced interest in the activities of the ARSI. DTC itself practices and promotes rural surgery and even sponsors training of surgeons from developing nations in rural surgical procedures. Soon surgeons from other countries like Holland, United States, Canada, Australia, Bangla Desh, U.K., African countries like Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and even Cuba began participating in the annual conferences of the ARSI. Latin Americans too showed interest but language barrier came in their (and our) way.
Seeing the global interest in rural surgery, Dr. Thomas Moch and Dr. Gabriela Holoch from DTC conceived the idea of forming and International Society of Rural Surgery (ISRS), devoted to the rural surgery. Dr. J.K.Banerjee from ARSI seconded it and the idea received unanimous support from the ARSI.
The 12th annual conference of the ARSI was a combined meeting of ARSI, Association of Surgeons of Rural India, a section of ASI and it was also considered to be the first conference of the international society of rural surgery. It was held in September 2005, in Ujjain, M.P. India. Delegates from Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Germany, Holland and USA, participated in it.
The society proposed was a federation of associations of rural surgeons of different countries and it was to devote itself to promote health care of the unreached in each country with affordable, appropriate, multi-speciality, essential surgery, overcoming the constraints and poor infrastructure.
During the meeting on 25th of September 2005 ( it has been considered to be the first general body meeting of the new society, and the conference itself as its first conference) delegates unanimously accepted the proposal of forming an international society. It was named International Federation of Rural Surgery I.F.R.S. The draft document of memorandum and rules and regulations were also accepted and the office bearers were elected for their two year term.