The inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Society of Parasitologists (as it was then called), was convened at the Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur on the 10th of January 1964. The constitution was approved and the first Council was elected. Dr. A. A. Sandosham was elected as the first President of the Society. The Scientific programmes at the beginning consisted of laboratory demonstrations in parasitology which was set up at 6-monthly intervals alternating between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur held under the auspices of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London and later undertaken solely by our Society.
The scope and range of activities of the Society gradually expanded and its membership increased. Along with the laboratory demonstrations meetings, talks on various aspects of parasitology were introduced. These were enlarged in scope and range of interest to half-yearly seminars with several papers being presented and discussed over a 2-day or even a 3-day period. On occasions, seminars were devoted to specific topics such as “Zoonoses”, “Rural Health Problems” and “Malaria”.
The Annual General Meetings of the Society were held in conjunction with the seminars organized during the first quarter of the year. The venues of these meetings are the Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, University of Malaya, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Univeristi Putra Malaysia and the Veterinary Research Institute, Ipoh. Another regular feature are the talks held under the auspices of the Society by visitors and local scientists eminent in various fields of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine.
With the formation of the Central Coordinating Board for Tropical Medicine (CCBTM) of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Council, the Society became associated with the Regional meetings on Parasitology and Tropical Medicine organized by CCBTM in various capitals of SEA and our Society jointly sponsored the third such seminar held in Singapore in June 1968 on “ Filariasis and Immunology of Parasitic Infections”. With the growing interest in the applied aspects of parasitology in medicine and veterinary practice in the tropics, the name of our Society was changed to the “ Malaysian Society of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine”. With enlarged international representation at our meetings it became possible to attract distinguished men like our late Prime Minister, Tungku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj and Tun Abdul Razak, the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Singapore Dr Toh Chin Chye and the various Health Ministers to declare open our seminars.
The notes on demonstrations set up at the laboratory meetings were nitially published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and later selectively published in the Southeast Asian Journal of tropical Medicine and Public Health. Subsequently, abstracts were published in the Medical Journal of Malaya, the Singapore Medica l Journal, the Malaysian Veterinary Journal, the Thai Medical Journal and in the Proceedings of the Third Seminar of CCBTM.
Many have helped to establish the Society on a firm footing but it will be too lengthy to emulate them all here. A special mention of the services rendered by professor R. S. Desowitz in the initial stages and Dr Ming M Wong, Dr. C.P. Ramachandran and Dr. S. Ramalingam during their period as Hon. Secretaries contributed to the Society’s rapid advancement. The Society also owes much to the impetus given by the Secretary-General of CCBTM, Professor Chamlong Harinasuta in widening our scope and bringing us in contact with parasitologists of Southeast Asian Region.
For the 30th year Anniversary, the Society hosted an International Congress of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine with the theme “Trends in the Management and Control of Tropical Diseases”. Professor B. Sinniah was the Chairman of the Organising Committee. Twenty five consultants from the World Health
Organisation attended the congress. In addition, several prominent researchers and Scientists from different parts of the world presented papers or chaired scientific sessions. A total of 170 papers were presented at the 3 days Congress.
The Second International Congress was organized under the Chairmanship of Prof. Dato’ Khairul Anuar in 2001. The theme” New Frontiers and Challenges “attracted an international and local participation of 250 scientists including 37 invited speakers.
For the 40th Anniversary, The Society organized the 1st ASEAN Congress of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine with the theme “Tropical diseases and vectors: management and control” under the chairmanship of Dr Indra Vythilingam. His Royal Highness the Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah officiated the Congress
which was attended by 380 delegates from 28 countries. A total of 156 oral and 54 posters were presented during the 3 days congress.
This is a brief account of the origin and activities of the Society.