History and Milestones

It all began with twelve pioneers, who in 1970 started a series of discussions after an initial meeting at the Swiss Inn in Paco, Manila. These leading infectious disease specialists and practitioners at that time saw the need for an organization dedicated to the study of infectious diseases in the country.

On 27 January 1972, the PSMID was formally organized with the induction of the first set of officers headed by Dr. Elpidio Gamboa (1972-1973) as the first President. PSMID’s charter was signed on 23 May 1972 by eleven persons, namely, Drs. Elpidio Gamboa, Rodolfo Jao, Benjamin Limson, Pedro Chanco, Thelma Tupasi, Lourdes Campos, Ernesto Valdez, Cesar Uylangco, Virginia Sevilla, Joaquin Sumpaico and Antonio Gonzaga. On this day, the PSMID pledged itself to the study and research of infectious diseases and microbiology in the Philippines, and work for the enactment of appropriate laws that would further the interest of the Society and of the patient.

The next five years saw the considerable growth in membership with the Society’s focus on CME and the establishment of professional standards. The PSMID Specialty Board was created and the Philippine Journal of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases was launched. Post-graduate courses were initiated by Dr. Cesar Uylangco (1974-1975) in collaboration with local medical societies throughout the country, which expanded to more scientific meetings under Dr Joaquin Sumpaico (1976). CME was further strengthened by Dr. Bienvenido Alora (1977-1978) with the establishment of a Trust Fund dedicated for that purpose, and the recognition of outstanding physicians in infectious diseases with the PSMID-Bristol Awards. A milestone is the holding of the first Annual Convention in 1978.

Research was highlighted in the following years beginning with Dr. Luis Mayo-Lao’s (1979-1980) establishment of the PSMID-United Research Paper Contest. Under the stewardship of Dr. Urbano Mendoza (1981-1982) and Dr. Angeles Tan-Alora (1983-1984), the Society’s expanding scientific activities and post-graduate courses continued unabated.

Building further from the achievements of his predecessors, Dr. Benjamin Limson (1985-1986) added more impetus to research with the PSMID-Roche Award, and started international exchange of ideas during the 9th Annual Convention in 1986, when Asian leaders of infectious diseases and microbiology formed the short-lived Asian Federation of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases with Dr. Bienvenido Alora as President.

In 1987, the international involvement of PSMID continued to flourish with the assumption of Dr. Alberto Alcantara (1987-1988) into office. That year, the society sponsored the country’s first International Congress on AIDS and other STDs.

1989 saw the PSMID tackle issues of clinical importance. The President, Dr. Mediadora Saniel (1989) created working committees such as the Antibiotic Task Force and the Infection Control Committee. This in turn set the foundation for the Society’s later ventures towards establishing practice standards, and on policy positions related to public health issues.

By the ‘90’s, the Society emerged as an assertive leader and pioneering resource of infectious disease expertise. The initiatives of Dr. Thelma Tupasi (1990-1991) left imprints, which had influenced certain issues and blazed trails in standardizing the practice of infectious diseases in the country. PSMID officially became a member of the Western Pacific Society of Chemotherapy on December 1991, and the International Society of Chemotherapy on June 1991. This debuted PSMID as a voice in the international arena with its later hostings of international meetings.

In 1992, Dr. Alberto Gabriel (1992-1993) took office, consolidating the gains of the previous years. PSMID was given the privilege to host the 4th Western Pacific Congress on Chemotherapy and Infectious Diseases (WPCCID) in 1994 with Dr. Thelma Tupasi as Congress President. This meeting was dubbed “Event of the Year” by the Department of Tourism, which bestowed the 1995 Kalakbay Award to PSMID for this singular feat.

Under the incumbency of Dr. Norma Abejar (1994), the Society saw the acquisition of a new property in Quezon City which became the official national headquarters. In addition, largely dictated by the administrative demands of WPCCID, PSMID became a DOST-recognized science foundation with a PSMID Trust Fund for Research.

Thus, 1994 was a truly momentous year for PSMID. It achieved the almost unbelievable feat of hosting a meeting of the world’s who’s who in chemotherapy and infectious diseases. The 4th WPCCID had 205 faculty members of international distinction coming from 47 countries, and a total of 213 speakers and presenters. Out of this Congress, 7 Consensus Statements were produced on important issues such as MDR tuberculosis, antibiotic policies, malaria, pneumonia, dengue fever and limited resource AIDS and cancer management.

The incumbency of Dr. Julius A. Lecciones (1995-1996) sought to build upon the gains of the Society achieved thus far. Looking back at this Congress, he noted, “It is not so much what we can achieve individually, but what and how we accomplish together. And to succeed, there is no better way than to draw from our collective strength and common experience, and use lessons of the past to guide us confidently towards the future.” Inspired by the success of the 4th WPCCID, the members closed ranks to maintain the Society’s fine tradition of excellence in order to continue inspiring more achievements. With the Society’s celebration of its 25th Founding Anniversary in 1996, Dr. Lecciones pushed for an even more vigorous research culture, including advocacy for improved standards of practice in infectious diseases. In pursuit of these goals, research projects were funded from the Research Trust Fund with the creation of a Research Committee as a separate standing committee to oversee research project implementation. The development of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) began in earnest with the creation of Task Forces in 5 diseases, namely, community-acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections, pulmonary tuberculosis, meningitis and STDs.

To further strengthen the voice of members in decision-making, permanent representation in the Governing Council was established, one each for the Visayas and Mindanao. Likewise, with the official transfer of the PSMID office to its present headquarters, operational systems and procedures as well as staffing requirements were established to better monitor activities and achieve effective organizational controls that will ensure unhampered and efficient operations.

Additionally, to further create symbols of inspiration, the PSMID Hymn and the PSMID Prayer were launched in 1996 to further mark PSMID’s Silver Anniversary, as well as the holding of the first Mid-Year Convention in Cebu hosted by the Cebu Chapter.

Funded research projects continued to flourish under the stewardship of Dr. Mary Ann Lansang (1997), who also presided over the completion of CPGs started during the previous year.

During the incumbency of Dr. Adrian Peña during the centennial year of 1998, the final drafts of the Philippine Clinical Practice Guidelines (PCPG) on Community Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) were published. Other projects completed in that year were: the reactivation of the PSMID Gazette; the updating of the minimum standards and requirements of the fellowship training program, and an objective checklist to implement the program; the streamlining of the membership; and the guidelines delineating the requirements for an alternate pathway for attaining the status of Fellow.

The incumbency of Dr. Eric Tayag (1999) saw the consolidation of gains achieved from research programs established years back, and in the dissemination of CPGs nationwide for increased CPG utilization. This emphasized the continuity in program administration as one critical success factor in PSMID’s performance.

With the organization’s internal reengineering, PSMID evolved into a stronger organization with the institution of programs that benefited fellows in training. Thus, Dr. Remedios Coronel (2000-2001) established regular CPC meetings hosted by different training institutions during the year, culminating in the Star Quiz during the annual convention when fellows from the different training programs engage in friendly competition.

The turn of the millennium saw the need to review PSMID’s mission and vision, as well as examining the society’s relevance to the current issues in health care through team building workshops and activities. With this, Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian (2002) took the opportunity for PSMID to examine where it is now and where it wants to be, while taking advantage of the foundation of achievements gained thus far. Hence, 2003 started with a re-invigorated vision and stronger sense of purpose.

Under the leadership of Dr. Jaime C. Montoya (2003-2004) PSMID was at the forefront in the campaign against SARS with its strategic programs in influenza and other emerging infections. In support of national information campaigns, the chapters hosted symposia during the annual convention. Likewise, through a strategic partnership with Manila Times, PSMID addressed relevant health issues through its own newspaper column, “What’s bugging me doc?”, as well as feature articles in the Times’ health magazine. In 2004, PSMID initiated and formed the Philippine Alliance for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (PAPCID) as a venue for networking between private and public agencies and organizations to achieve faster mobilization of efforts against the threats of emerging infections. Leading promoter of medical research in the country through the institution of Research grants in infectious disease like the Dr. Benjamin Limson Research Grant during his term as President of the PSMID and recognition of outstanding researches in infectious disease through the Dr. Antonio Gonzaga Research prize also launched during his term as president of the PSMID and encouragement for young researchers through the Outstanding Young Researcher Awards during his term as President of the BMS Philippine Foundation. The Dr. Benjamin Limson Research Grant Contest for Young Investigators was launched in 2004 and there PSMID has been awarding financial grants.

Another major milestone was achieved in 2005 with PSMID’s hosting of the 24th International Congress on Chemotherapy (ICC) in Manila, the very first time that ICC was held in a developing country. Dr. Evelina Lagamayo (2005-2006) presided over this realization of the Society’s dream, which began with the unrelenting efforts of Dr. Thelma Tupasi and Dr. Julius Lecciones in the previous years never to give up PSMID’s bid to host this event. With Dr. Thelma Tupasi as Congress President, ICC was attended by 1,842 local participants and 503 international delegates. The Manila ICC produced 6 Congress Declarations, namely, statements on (1) antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance; (2) the politics of TB drug development; (3) innovations in infection control in resource-constrained areas; (4) emerging infectious diseases (from the Asia Pacific Society for Medical Virology); (5) statement in support of a total war against retinoblastoma (from the Philippine Retinoblastoma Cooperative Group); and, (6) statement from the Philippine Partnership to fight TB, malaria and AIDS.

According to Dr. Tupasi, the Manila Declarations of the 24th ICC spelled out the road map for the International Society of Chemotherapy (ISC) and its allied professional organizations in confronting these contemporary issues. As she aptly puts it, “The Declarations posed a challenge to the ISC and its member societies for actions that are bold, swift and imaginative to control infection and cancer. The world waits with great anticipation to a meaningful response to this challenge.”

PSMID Headquarters, used to be a residential bungalow office, had now become a 3 storey building in 2006, a long-awaited dream of the previous officers, was materialized also under the incumbency of Dr. Evelina N. Lagamayo (2005-2006). To date, PSMID has its own 3 storey building: the ground floor is intended for lease, the 2nd Floor is the PSMID Secretariat and a roof deck at the 3rd floor which can also be rented out.

The PSMID building was inaugurated in May 2007, under the leadership of Dr. Lita Z. Vizconde (2007). Along with the inauguration, a symposium entitled “Are we Winning (or Losing) the Battle against Tuberculosis” was conducted and held at the conference room of the newly renovated PSMID building. Dr. Thelma E. Tupasi was the Resource Speaker with Dr. Rosalind Vianzon, DOH TB Program Manager and Dr. Ma. Imelda Quelapio, PhilCAT President, as Reactors.

The leadership of Dr. Cecilia Montalban in 2008 has been painted with so much constitutional transformations and standardization. For the first time, the conduct of the Specialty Board examination has been institutionalized and amendments of the constitution and by-laws was eventually approved after the proxy votes had been practiced. It was a year of international recognition as the PSMID hosted the International Society of Chemotherapy (ISC)’s Disease Management Series on Meningitis in April 10, 2008. Also, on October 24, 2008, PSMID was recognized as one of the 105 country supporters of Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE). Recognition was held in Washington D.C., USA.

In 2009, the country experienced the first ever NCR-wide outbreak of leptospirosis due to typhoon Ondoy. With Dr. Manolito Chua in lead, PSMID created the Leptospirosis guideline that specifically addressed the issues on its treatment, prevention and managing its complications. This year also marked the heightened participation of the society in several advocacy programs such as the PCP-HERO, Health forums, the Antibiotic Optimization Campaign and the PSMID-PIDSP Journalism award.

The following year, 2010, marked the deeper involvement of the society in other advocacy programs with the launching of the Philippine HIV-AIDS Epidemic: A Call to Action, a pre-convention conference in that year’s annual convention that invited renowned HIV-AIDS expert Dr. Michael Lederman of the Case Western University of Cleveland and members of AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) because of the rising incidence of HIV in the Philippines. PSMID remains to be an active member of the multi-sectoral group that helped propose a resolution directing the Senate Committee on Health and Demography to pass a law that will address local and foreign employment of hepatitis B carriers.

In 2011, under the leadership of Dr. Rontgene M. Solante, additional subcommittees have been created that was approved unanimously by the Board of Councils such as Influenza, Invasive Fungal Disease, HIV, Tetanus and Typhoid Fever. Together with the existing clinical practice guideline of the society, Dr. Solante also appropriated a budget for each CPG as it is the vision of the Society that all subcommittees will eventually be able to come up with clinical practice guidelines in order to strengthen its role in standardizing the management of important infections in the country.

Also, it was Dr. Solante who spearheaded a Strategic Planning and Team Building in 2012 to draw a blueprint on how the society sees itself in the next five years. A series of meetings were done to be able to finalize the Management Action Plan (MAP). Moreover, Dr. Solante has designed a membership assistance that may be a help to the membership in hospital and death assistance. This was subsequently reviewed by the board of councils under the leadership of Dr. Ludovico L. Jurao the following year, 2013. It was then presented to the assembly during the Business Meeting in November 2013. During this time, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has been approved and accredited as a new training institution for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

In subsequent years, several educational workshops headed by Dr. Yvette Barez were conducted to boost the Society’s advocacy on rational antibiotic use. During her term in 2015, the vision-mission statements of PSMID were revisited, along with its management action plan (MAP) goals: 1) active participation on issues of public health importance; 2) accurate information on important health issues; 3) enhanced ID Training Program; 4) improved performance in specialty board exams; 5) focused, unified research agenda; and 6) improved membership involvement & participation. At this time, the Society started giving subsidized funding or grant for selected fellow-in-training.

From 2016-2017, collaborations were made with the Department of Health and other medical professional organizations such as the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), PhilCAT and Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) in relation to HIV, TB, emerging infections such as Ebola and MERS-CoV, dengue, and antimicrobial stewardship, with the creation of the National Antibiotic Guidelines (NAG). During the term of Dr. Rose delos Reyes, the research program was enhanced with the Society’s partnership with the Philippine Council for Health Research Development (PCHRD). In addition, new CPGs on “Ethics in Infectious Disease Practice”, “Diarrhea”, “Typhoid Fever,” and “Opportunistic Infections in HIV,” were released, aside from the updates of the guidelines on TB and CAP.

Indeed, the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases has gone a long way and from its humble beginnings find further inspiration in the achievements of the present. As it gets stronger and explores new territories, it finds itself conquering more untempered horizons in both the national and international arena. As it continues to soar, PSMID remained committed to uplifting the lives of the Filipino people through the promotion of health consciousness and the prevention of infectious diseases.

As we break new grounds and blaze pioneering trails, we all reflect on what could be further achieved in the service of the nation.


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