Melville Christian (13 May 1932 – 12 June 1988) was an Indian physician and epidemiologist who made many important and significant contributions to the areas of epidemiology, control and chemotherapy of leprosy.
Born in New Delhi, Dr. Christian did his early schooling there before moving to Madras (now Chennai) where he completed his school education. He then studied at the Madras Christian College before joining the M.B.,B.S. undergraduate medicine course at the Stanley Medical College. On graduating in the year 1958, he decided to devote his career to working in leprosy. Towards this end, he underwent the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (D.T.M. & H.) course at the University of Calcutta and was awarded the Russomay Silver Medal for proficiency in Tropical Medicine, in the year 1960. Later in 1973 he completed a post-graduate training course in Epidemiology at the Post-Graduate Medical Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Dr. Christian joined the Central Leprosy Teaching and Research Institute (C.L.T.R.I.) at Chingleput in Tamilnadu, south India, in 1962. This was one of the larger Government-run leprosy institutions in southern India. He initially underwent basic training in different aspects of leprosy. In 1963, Dr. Christian was called up as an Emergency Commissioned Officer in the Army Medical Corps of the Indian Army, where he served till 1967. Returning to C.L.T.R.I. Chingleput in that year, he worked initially as a Medical Officer and then later rose to the position of Medical Superintendent of the institution. Following a heart attack in the year 1977, from which he fully recovered, Dr. Christian retired from full-time Government service.
Dr. Christian then spent a year working with the South-East Asia Regional Office (S.E.A.R.O.) of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), after which, in the year 1979, he joined the Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre (S.L.R & T.C) at Karigiri as Head of the Branch of Epidemiology and Leprosy Control. This Branch was conducting a leprosy control programme covering a population of about 800,000, which was one of the largest such programmes in South Asia. Dr. Christian raised the status of the Branch to international recognition. In 1987, Dr. Christian assumed charge as the Director of S.L.R & T.C. which was his last assignment before his untimely passing away.
At S.L.R.& T.C. Karigiri, Dr. Christian focussed on the areas of staff development and training. As the institution’s Director, he worked towards strengthening the core areas of patient care, training and research. He also gave attention to relations between the staff of the institution, patients and the community.
Apart from his responsibilities at S.L.R & T.C. Karigiri, Dr. Christian held several other important positions within and outside India. At the national level, he was a consultant to the W.H.O. in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (I.C.M.R), the Task Force for the Eradication of Leprosy and various other commissions of the Government of India. At the international level, Dr. Christian was a member of the Steering Committee and the Scientific Working Group of THELEP (Therapy of Leprosy) of the W.H.O.; a member of the W.H.O. evaluation team of the national leprosy control programmes of Burma, Thailand and Indonesia; a member of various W.H.O. study groups and expert committees on the epidemiology, control and chemotherapy of leprosy; Medical Consultant for India to The Leprosy Mission International; consultant to the Swedish International Development Agency (S.I.D.A.)
Dr. Christian was an extremely affable, warm, friendly and caring physician whose concern for the welfare of his patients was legendary, especially poor patients. He was also a highly organized, competent and efficient administrator who left an indelible mark on the institutions and people he worked with.
(Contributed by Dr. Ravi D'Souza, M.D.)
Formerly Senior Medical Officer, Schieffelin Leprosy Research & Training Centre, Karigiri, Tamil Nadu State, India.
Vellut C, Christian M. Strategy on leprosy control. Lepr India 1978; 50:418-27.
Balakrishnan S, Christian M. Assessment of self administration of dapsone in urine by out-patients attending field clinics. Lepr India 1980; 52:249-51.
Balraj V, Jesudasan K, Chacko CJG, Christian M, Taylor PM, Fritschi EP, Job CK. Prevalence of secondary dapsone resistance in Gudiyatham Taluk. 1. Preliminary report. Int J Lepr 1980; 48:397-401.
Christian M. The epidemiological situation of leprosy in India. Lepr Rev 1981; 52:35-42.
Christian M, Chacko CJG. Prevalence of secondary and primary dapsone resistance in Gudiyatham taluk. Lepr Rev 1981; 54:185-91.
Jesudasan S, John SP, Jesudasan K, Christian M, Fritschi EP. An analysis into the trends of reconstructive surgery in Gudiyatham Taluk, a leprosy control area. Lepr India 1981; 53:213-20.
Neelan PN, Noordeen SK, Ramu G, Desikan KV, Prabhu KP, Christian M. Inter-observer variations in diagnosis and classification of early lesions of leprosy. Lepr India 1982; 54:485-8.
Radhakrishna S, Christian M, Nair NG. A 20-year study of the leprosy control programme at the Government Leprosy Treatment and Study Centre at Tirukoilur in south India. Ind J Med Res 1982; 76:18-35.
Almeida JG, Chacko CJG, Christian M. The significance of dapsone (DDS)-resistant Mycobacterium leprae in untreated patients. Int J Lepr 1983; 51:374-7.
Almeida JG, Christian M, Chacko CJG, Taylor PM, Fritschi EP. Studies on dapsone-resistant Mycobacterium leprae in leprosy patients of Gudiyatham taluk 2. A progress report.Lepr Rev 1983; 54:185-91.
Almeida JG, Christian M, Chacko CJG. Follow-up of lepromatous (LL and BL) patients on dapsone (DDS) monotherapy after attainment of smear negativity in Gudiyatham Taluk, South India. Int J Lepr 1983; 51:382-4.
Almeida JG, Christian M, Chacko CJG. Response to dapsone (DDS) monotherapy in leprosy patients of Gudiyatham Taluk, South India: comparison between the 1960s and the 1970s. Int J Lepr 1983; 51: 378-80.
Almeida JG, Christian M, Chacko CJG. Results of long term domiciliary dapsone (DDS) monotherapy for lepromatous leprosy in Gudiyatham Taluk, South India. Int J Lepr 1983; 51:385-6.
Almeida JG, Chacko CJG, Christian M. The significance of dapsone (DDS) resistant Mycobacterium leprae in untreated patients. Int J Lepr 1983; 51:374-7.
Almeida JG, Chacko CJG, Christian M, Taylor PM, Fritschi EP. DDS-resistant infection among leprosy patients in the population of Gudiyatham Taluk, South India. 3. Prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and interpretation of mouse foot-pad test results. Int J Lepr 1983; 51:366-73.
John JK, Pannikar VK, Verghese A, Christian M. Social and personality factors in dapsone resistant patients. Lepr India 1983; 55;100-6.
Almeida JG, Jesudasan K, Christian M, Chacko CJG. Relapse rates in lepromatous leprosy according to treatment regularity. Int J Lepr 1986; 54: 16-20.
Jesudasan K, Bradley D, Smith PG, Christian M. Incidence rates of leprosy among household contacts of “primary cases”. Ind J Lepr 1984; 56:600-14.
Jesudasan K, Bradley D, Smith PG, Christian M. The effects of intervals between surveys on the estimation of incidence rates of leprosy. Lepr Rev 1984; 55:353-9.
Jesudasan K, Bradley D, Smith PG, Christian M. Time trends in the analysis of incidence rates of leprosy among household contacts. Ind J Lepr 1984; 56:792-806.
Jesudasan K, Christian M, Bradley D. Relapse rates among non-lepromatous patients released from control. Int J Lepr 1984; 52:304-10.
Jesudasan K, Bradley D, Christian M. Are defaulters with paucibacillary leprosy a problem? Ind J Lepr 1985; 57:354-9.
Jesudasan K, Christian M, Chacko CJG, Keystone JS. Comparative studies in human and armadillo derived Mitsuda lepromin. Lepr Rev 1985; 56:303-8.
Jesudasan K, Christian M. Risk of paucibacillary leprosy patients released from control relapsing with multibacillary leprosy. Int J Lepr 1985; 53:19-21.
Jesudasan K, Christian M. Spontaneous healing in paucibacillary leprosy. Ind J Med Res 1985; 81:119-22.
Jesudasan K, Christian M. Surveillance in leprosy. Ind J Lepr 1985; 57:132-7.
Nair NG, Radhakrishna S, Christian M, Ramakrishnan R, Gopi PG. A 20 year study of the Leprosy Control Programme at the Hemerijckx Leprosy Centre in Polambakkam in South India. Ind J Lepr 1985; 57:562-74.
Sommerfelt H, Irgens LM, Christian M. Geographical variations in the occurrence of leprosy: possible roles played by nutrition and some other environmental factors. Int J Lepr 1985; 53:524-32.
Almeida JG, Jesudasan K, Christian M, Chacko CJG. Relapse rates in lepromatous leprosy according to treatment regularity. Int J Lepr 1986; 54:16-20.
Ellard GA, Pannikar VK, Jesudasan K, Christian M. Clofazimine and dapsone compliance in leprosy. Lepr Rev 1988; 59:205-13.
Jesudasan K, Pannikar V, Christian M. Infectivity of secondary dapsone-resistant cases. Int J Lepr 1988; 56:418-21.
Jesudasan K, Vijayakumaran P, Pannikar VK, Christian M. Impact of MDT on leprosy as measured by selective indicators. Lepr Rev 1988; 59:215-23.
Pannikar V, Jesudasan K, Vijayakumaran P, Christian M. Relapse or late reversal reaction? Int J Lepr 1989; 57:526-8.
Sundar Rao PS, Jesudasan K, Mani K, Christian M. Impact of MDT on incidence rates of leprosy among household contacts. Part 1. Baseline data. Int J Lepr 1989; 57:647-51.
Thomas A, Balakrishnan A, Nagarajan M, Prabhakar R, Tripathy SP, Christian M, Somasundaram PR. Controlled clinical trial of two multidrug regimens with and without rifampicin in highly bacilliferous BL/LL south Indian patients: a five year report. Int J Lepr 1990; 58:273-80.
Kumar RP, Keystone JS, Christian M, Jesudasan K. Transmission of health information on leprosy from children to their families: another approach to health education. Lepr Rev 1991; 62:58-64.
Shaw IN, Natrajan MM, Rao GS, Jesudasan K, Christian M, Kavitha M. Long-term follow up of multibacillary leprosy patients with high BI treated with WHO/MDT regimen for a fixed duration of two years. Int J Lepr 2000; 68:405-9.
Shaw IN, Christian M, Jesudasan K, Kurian N, Rao GS. Effectiveness of multidrug therapy in multibacillary leprosy: a long-term follow-up of 34 multibacillary patients treated with multidrug regimens till skin smear negativity. Lepr Rev 2003; 74:141-7.
Epidemiology in Manual of Leprosy - Edited by R H Thangaraj and published by The Leprosy Mission, 1975.
Classification in Manual of Leprosy - Edited by R H Thangaraj and published by The Leprosy Mission, 1975.