M.B.,B.S., D.G.O., D.V., M.P.H (USA), Ph.D (Madras),
Dr. Miss Chedavachi Nelliat Sowmini, born on 5th January 1922 having graduated from Madras Medical College in 1940, completed D.G.O soon after. Having joined Govt. Service she was posted to Vijayawada as Asst. Surgeon. She obtained PG Diploma in Venereology from Andhra Medical College, Vizag.
Being the first lady Medical Officer to specialise in this field, she was offered a Fellowship by WHO, for further specialisation in this field. At the prestigious School of John Hopkins University at Baltimore, (U.S.A.) she took her Master Degree in Public Health majoring in venereal diseases.
Having rejoined as Asst. Surgeon-cum-Tutor in Venereology under the Directorship of the World Famous Venereologist Dr.R.V.Rajam, she became Associate Professor and later the Director of Institute of Venereology, Madras Medical College, Madras, after Dr.P.N.Rangiah. While working under Dr. P.N. Rangiah she was awarded the Ph.D by the University of Madras for her thesis on ‘Epidemiological aspects of Venereal Diseases’.
In addition to being the Director of Institute of Venereology, Madras Medical College, Madras, she held the post of Superintendent of Govt. General Hospital, Madras, just before her retirement.
As Director she elevated the glory of the Institute to higher levels. Under her guidance, a number of schemes were sanctioned by the Indian Council of Medical Research apart from the already on going schemes of ICMR in Central V.D. Reference Laboratory at the Institute.
Dr.C.N.Sowmini was appointed to the 28th World Health Assembly, Geneva, to represent the developing countries on Venereal Diseases. She has represented India in W.H.O. as an expert advisory committee member on Gonorrhoea and Treponematosis. She was also sent to Bangkok by W.H.O. for epidemiological survey. Her selfless services as a member of the advisory committee on V.D. to the Government of Tamilnadu and Govt. of India are worth mentioning.
A number of surveys for the prevalence of V.D. and Yaws in the hills of Tamilnadu and in back water area (Thyagavalli Panchayathi near Cuddalore) were carried out during her Directorship. A team of Doctors with mobile laboratory was taken to these areas and epidemiological treatment was given wherever necessary. The Second V.D. & Yaws Conference was held by Govt. of India during her period. Special mention should also be made on the ‘Seminar on Hospital Housekeeping’, held for the Hospital Doctors and Engineers of Public Works Department which she conducted during her period as Superintendent. She has contributed both as an author and co-author for more than fifty publications.
After retirement she was appointed as Emeritus Professor and also as Emeritus Scientist of ICMR.
Dr.C.N.Sowmini was honoured in 2000, with ‘Life Time Award’ in academics, jointly by Anna University & Science City at Anna University, Chennai.
In 2004 IUSTI Congress honoured her with ‘IUSTI Senior Fellowship’ Award at Bangkok.
Having felt the need to have a separate Association for this speciality, to compile information on trends of incidence of the STDs throughout India and disseminate information concerning methods for the prevention and control of STDs, she was instrumental in starting ‘Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases’ (IASSTD) in 1975, which was latter changed to ‘IASSTD & AIDS’. After serving as President of the Association for 8 years, stabilising it and bringing recognition to the Association, she relinquished the post of President giving chance to youngsters to carry the torch. Having felt the need of her services and guidance for the Association, the members of the association nominated her as PATRON in 1983.
She was also instrumental in organising ‘Women Doctors' Association of Tamilnadu & Pondichery’. After serving as President, now she is Patron for this Association also.
Dr. Chedavachi Nelliat Sowmini, continued to be active and concerned about the speciality till she expired on 9th January 2012 She was a Teacher, Guide, Philosopher and Friend to her students. Members of the Association are indebted to the services rendered by her both to the Association and speciality.