For the first time on 7th November 1984, a conference entitled “Diarrhoea and Malnutrition in Childhood” was convened in London at Barts and Royal Commonwealth Society by Prof. John Walker Smith and Prof Sandy MacNeish. Twelve Commonwealth Paediatric societies were co-sponsors. There were 84 contributors from 12 Commonwealth countries. Countries ranged from Bangladesh to Papua-New Guinea. Nigeria, Ghana, Australia etc. In those early years it was India and Bangladesh that showed the most interest. Those present from UK included, Alan Phillips, Bhupinder Sandhu, Martin Brueton , and Ian Sanderson. Dick Hamilton and 5 others came from Canada. hepatology was included and Alex Mowat and Stuart Tanner both presented papers.
In 1991 Dr. Santosh Mittal from Delhi India took the initiative to convene a second conference in New Delhi. This was a pivotal moment for CAPGAN.
In 1994 third conference on “Diarrhoea and Malnutrition” was convened in Hong Kong by Peter Sullivan. He took the initiative to create CAPGAN at this meeting. Prof John Walker Smith was elected President albeit at first called chairman. Peter Sullivan as the Secretary had been very successful in getting the Commonwealth secretariat to accredit CAPGAN. He represented CAPGAN at the Commonwealth Secretariat and Health Minister’s conference for many Years (1988- 2008 followed by Prof. Bhupinder Sandhu ( 2008-2013), Dr. Barbara Golden and Tony Nelson.
Several other senior ESPGHAN members, Alan Phillips (Past Treasurer of CAPGAN & ESPGHAN), and Bhupinder Sandhu (Past President, CAPGAN) in particular, have contributed freely and willingly to the development of CAPGAN and represent at commonwealth secretariat from 2008-2013. However, of necessity, CAPGAN has a larger role in advocacy and it tries to be as inclusive as possible when organising conferences which are now biennial. A Constitution was created and accreditation by the Commonwealth Secretariat. CAPGAN has a larger role in advocacy and it tries to be as inclusive as possible when organizing conferences which are now biennial. Thus, CAPGAN is attended by state of the art researchers as well as junior pediatric trainees from very poor areas, and not just limited to Commonwealth countries. Conferences are held in different commonwealth countries, like Pakistan 1997 organised by Dr. Zulifizar Bhutta, Drakensberg (2003), Malawi (2009), London (2011), SriLanka (2013), India (2015), Zambia (2017).
The historic Silver Jubilee meeting of CAPGAN was organized by Dr. Peter Sullivan, Prof. Bhupinder Sandhu and Prof. Barbara Golden 21st to 23rd July 2011 in London. It was extremely well attended by 135 delegates, lot of travel bursaries were provided for developing countries participants, 64 research papers including 20 oral. The reception was at home of Commonwealth Marlborough House and conference dinner at Cholemondely Room, House of Parliament hosted by Baroness Warwick. It was in 2011 Prof. B Sandhu Prize of 250 £ was titled for the best Gastroenterology paper and subsequently a cash award of 250 £ tilted Barabra Golden Award for best paper in Nutrition. One of the recent memorable meeting was in India (Delhi – Oct 2015) organized by Dr. Neelam Mohan, attended by >250 delegates 87 research papers and 9 awarded for best oral / poster. It was in this GBM that 2 more awards were announced 1) Peter Sullivan award 250£ for best paper in Nutrition / Gastroenterology and Dr. Neelam Mohan award for best paper in Hepatology.
FISPGHAN was created in 2000 as an umbrella organization of which ESPGHAN is a full member. CAPGAN is an associate member as we simply do not carry the funds necessary to pay for full membership. However, CAPGAN has been particularly active in FISPGHAN in helping organize the 4 yearly World Conferences (WCPGHAN), from that in Paris 2004 till the next one in Copenhagen in 2020. CAPGAN also contributes to FISPGHAN’s Council meetings and Working Groups.
Prof. Tony Nelson has represented CAPGAN in Commonwealth Health Professionals Alliance (CHPA) since last few years and his contribution in this field has been phenomenal. In last few years Prof. Golden Barbara has been instrumental in reviving CAPGAN. Besides her contribution in commonwealth secretaries and awareness of consitituion she was an important Liaison person. Dr. Neelam Mohan has worked phenomenally first as a secretary under the presidency of Prof. Barbara (2015 -2017) and then as President from 2017. Through her bubbling energy, she brought in lot of positivity and revived the entire website, increased few council members from regions that were less represented and replaced few of the senior members who requested for a break. In addition, she could arrange a grant of 5000 pounds which could be utilised for travel fellowships/ bursaries for young fellows from developing countries to attend the biennial CAPGAN conference. Through her constant next agenda is to have task force for research collaboration and exchange fellowship. An excellent team has been structured with Steve Allan as lead after assing through GBM at Toronto Conference. It was indeed fortunate that Zulfiqar Bhutta, Director, Project Co-ordination Centre for Global Child Health, Sick Kids Toronto to organize a stupendous conference in Toronto from Oct 1st to 3rd in Association with Dr. Robert Bandsma as Secretary a true academic feast. List of past Presidents of CAPGAN : John Walker-Smith(1994), Peter Sullivan (1996 ) Zulfiqar Bhutta (1997), Tony Nelson (2000), Bhupinder Sandhu (2009); Dr. Tahmeed Ahmed (2011), David Brewster (2013), Barbara Golden (2015), Neelam Mohan (2017).
We are ever so grateful to Richard Whitburn, husband of Bhupinder Sandhu for modestly serving as photographer and contributing to the photo gallery, besides initiating the first website which was subsequently refurbished.