REMEMBERING THE LATE DR.C.M. FRANCIS
We regret to inform you that Dr. C.M. Francis, former Dean of St. John’s Medical College, passed away in Trichur on 21st January 2009 around 11.00pm.
His was a very rich and diverse professional journey and students, staff, and fellow workers of various institutions around the country will mourn this loss and miss him.
Dr. C.M.Francis graduated in Medicine from Madras Medical College and completed his Ph.D from Cambridge. He was a physiologist with deep interest in Endocrinology. He returned to Kerala after his studies and worked in various government medical colleges in Kerala – Calicut, Kottayam and others and also became Principal of two of these colleges before he was appointed as a founder director of Sree Chitra Tirunal Medical Centre for Advanced Studies in specialties , Thiruvananthapuram. He was also a visiting professor in the faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada.
In 1974, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, invited him to be the second dean of St. John’s Medical College and he provided leadership to the institution till 1982. He was also a member of the syndicate, senate and academic council of several universities and also the member of the governing bodies of a number of hospitals and ethics committees. He was also the founder president of the Indian Society of Health Administrators, (ISHA) Bangalore After completing his tenure with St. John’s he was involved with several other institutions of which three were particularly significant.
He was the coordinator of the Continuing Medical Education unit of Christian Medical College, Vellore; the Director of St. Martha’s Hospital, Bangalore, and later president of the Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action, Bangalore and senior consultant in its functional unit, the Community Health Cell (CHC). During his post retirement innings particularly with CHC he played many important roles and was involved in many significant initiatives.
He was founder & editor of Health Action, the popular health magazine of the Health for All trust of the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) and a policy consultant to CHAI as well. He was the founder convenor of the Community Based Rehabilitation Forum (CBR Forum) based in Bangalore which is supporting CBR projects all over the country. He was also invited regularly as a consultant to the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka to advice on Health Human Power Development and Medical Ethics. One of the most important roles he also undertook was as a key member of the Karnataka Government Task Force on Health and Family Welfare and provided the frame work for strengthening of Primary and Secondary Health Care and Health System Development in the state.
The chapter on Vision 2020 was his special contribution apart from substantial inputs and editorial support to the whole document. Dr. Francis brought together his rich experience in Hospital and Health Management in a special publication entitled Hospital Administration, (Jaypee Brother Medical Publishers- 1991) which has seen many editions, the latest being co authored with Dr. Mario D’Souza, a Johnite alumni. His long term interest in Medical Ethics also resulted in a short text book on Medical Ethics- (Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers-1993) which is now a prescribed reference text book for the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences , ethics curriculum. Dr. Francis was also very involved in introduction of Ethics into the undergraduate medical curriculum by this university.
In recognition of a long standing commitment to Medical Ethics and to the realization of health human rights, the National organizing committee of the Second Bio-Ethics Conference felicitated Dr. C.M. Francis, at the conference to recognize and deeply appreciate his contribution to the field. All of us who worked closely with him in all these various institutions especially St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore Catholic Health Association of India, Secunderabad Christian Medical College, Vellore, St. Marthas Hospital, Bangalore, CHC of the Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action, Bangalore, and CBR Forum, Bangalore will remember him as a serious and committed administrator, an inspiring and conscientious advisor, an ethical and socially sensitive humanist and above all a wonderful friend, philosopher and guide.
May his soul rest in peace!
Note From Dr Mohan: Prof Urology Saint Johns
Dr C.M. Francis joined St. John's in 1974 as Dean, succeeding the iconic Dr Louis Montiero. A professor of Physiology, he had served as Principal of the Medical Colleges at Kottayam and Calicut when his services were requisitioned by the CBCI society forMedical Education.
This coincided with some of the toughest times that St. John's went through. The Emergency in India followed in June 1975, the hospital was only just coming up and relations between St. John's & the University were alarmingly volatile. And, there was a major funds crunch.
Dr Francis steered the institution these difficult times with single-minded determination. His strong discipline and untiring work during this period saw St. John's through, and paved the way for calmer times.
Students of the time will remember him as a strict, but considerate teacher, whose discipline was easily apparent even to the senior professors of his time. Much of the reputation St. John's gained as a premier medical college was the result of this academic discipline. We were also fortunate to have his eldest son, Mathew as a batchmate, and he was followed by his sisters Mary and Rosemary in later years. The children, each one of them, were exemplary students, and Mary is now back in St. John's.
After his tenure at St. John's, Dr Francis continued to play a very important role as Director of St. Martha's Hospital, and as part of the Community Health Cell. He was greatly interested in Medical Ethics, and served on several committees and organisations working in this area. A deeply committed Catholic, he was also an important participant in the activities of the CBCI, the Catholic hospitals Association of India and similar organisations. He also served on many Research Ethics Committees.
His loss will be felt not only by his family and in St. John's but also by various church and lay organisations with whom he was associated. The students of the Batch of 1975 share the grief of Mrs Francis, Mathew, Jacob, Mary, Annie & Rosemary - and will also miss their DEAN. Our heartfelt condolences to the family. We bow ours head to Dr Francis, and pray for eternal peace for his soul.