The conditions grouped under the umbrella term ‘functional gastrointestinal disorders’ (currently re-named “Disorders of gut-brain interaction”), originally coined to indicate gut disorders without any detectable structural and organic abnormalities, affected a large proportion of patients visiting Gastroenterology clinics. Though most of the Gastroenterologists managed these patients in India, only a few had deep clinical and research interests in this field.
Research in this field in India saw an upturn in the 1990s. The researchers in some of the centers in the country started to learn more about the pathophysiology of functional and, more specifically, motility disorders. The first introduction of specialized gastrointestinal physiology and motility laboratories in the country was in the 1990s. Tribute must be paid to the late Prof. Subhash R Naik, the then Head of the Department of Gastroenterology at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, for his unparalleled ability to motivate and encourage his younger colleagues to probe deeper into subjects, however basic these may seem. The first full-fledged gastrointestinal physiology and motility laboratory in India was established in 1990 at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, under the supervision of Prof. Naik. This brought him accolades from around the world. The idea of forming an Indian Motility Association was conceived by Prof. SR Naik and his mentee Prof. Uday C Ghoshal as early as 2000. However, Prof. Naik left this world for his heavenly abode in July 2002, leaving behind a dream to be still fulfilled.
Shouldering his mentor’s legacy and publishing liberally on the subject, Prof. Uday C Ghoshal stayed focused on motility disorders while many others drifted away. Being absorbed by the deep pulsating rhythm of the Bengali poem ‘Ekla chalo re’ (if no one responds to your call, then walk on your path alone) by Rabindranath Tagore, motivated by the book ‘The fire in my heart’ by Debasis Chatterjee, and with the vision of not giving up portrayed by the Hindi movie ‘Lagaan’, a targeted effort towards the objective was re-initiated by Prof. Ghoshal in 2005. Prof. Ghoshal painstakingly aggregated his experiences from across the national and international platforms, and patronization from prominent faculties like Dr. Kok-Ann Gwee from Singapore, Dr. Sutep Gonlachanvit from Thailand, and Dr. Young Tae Bak from Korea, brought to life The Asian Neuro Motility Association (ANMA), which was registered in Thailand in the year 2010.
However, the ultimate objective of forming an Indian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association remained to be realized; it took only one year more for Prof. Ghoshal to register the Indian Motility and Functional Diseases Association (IMFDA) in the year 2011 at the office of the Deputy registrar Firm and Society in Lucknow Uttar Pradesh, India with its head office at the Department of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow. Prof. Ghoshal’s un-wearying dedication and diligent hard work continued to mentor this association initially as a Secretary General and subsequently as its President.
The aims of the Society are: (a) to provide a standardized care to patients suffering from gastrointestinal motility and functional disorders in India, (b) to share knowledge about these diseases in India with doctors and other health care workers, (c) to increase awareness about these diseases in India with patients, public and policy-makers, (d) to encourage research on this subject at various centers in India, (e) to promote knowledge about gastrointestinal motility disorder and functional bowel diseases in India in all possible ways.
IMFDA also shares an official journal by the name of Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (J Neurogastroenterol Motil), which was started in 2010 by collaboration between the ANMA and Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology Motility with painstaking efforts of Prof. Young Tae Bak (then the President of ANMA) and Prof. Uday C Ghoshal (then the Secretary General of ANMA), which has an impact factor of 4.924 currently. This journal has become the highest impact factor journal in the World among all the neurogastroenterology motility journals in a short span of time since its inception. It is also the official journal of the Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, the Thai Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society, the Japanese Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, the Chinese Society of Gastrointestinal Motility, the South East Asia Gastro-Neuro Motility Association and the Asian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association, to foster and promote research activities in the area of the motor, sensory and functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. It publishes peer-reviewed articles quarterly (January, April, July, and October). The Journal is indexed/tracked/covered by Science Citation Index, SCOPUS, EMBASE, EBSCO, PubMed, PubMed Central, KoreaMed, DOI/Crossref, and Google Scholar.
IMFDA hosts biennial congresses regularly to provide adequate opportunities for young investigators to present their works and learn from other experts. The first biennial congress of IMFDA was held on 5th- 6th August 2011 in Lucknow. The second congress was organized in Mumbai in October 2013, and its mid-term meeting was on the 17th and 18th May 2014 in Lucknow. The third biennial Congress was held in New Delhi on 6th February 2015, and the fourth in Hyderabad on 28th -29th April 2017. The 5th Congress is going to be held in Lucknow on 7-8th May 2022. From now the Society will hold annual rather than biennial congress. It was a privilege for the IMFDA to host its 4th Biennial ANMA Congress (ANMA Congress India) held in New Delhi, India from 7th -8th February, 2015 in conjunction with its 3rd biennial congress. This congress was attended by more than 300 participants from all over the world, especially from the Asia-Pacific region, which is the emerging area of GI motility research and treatment. The delegates and the faculty members in this congress were from 26 countries like USA, UK, Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh etc. It is important to mention that this congress was supported by the Rome Foundation, the Indian Society of Gastroenterology and many other international bodies.
Under the umbrella of the society, the member faculties have also done a lot of works on the commonly occurring problems such as chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome to promote care of these patients, and research on these conditions with the ultimate objective to improve their lives. It has published Indian consensus on chronic constipation and two other consensus (Indian irritable bowel syndrome consensus and Asian consensus on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) are under development.
Lao Tzu, a founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions, said "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". A small step of initiating this Indian Neurogastroenterology and Motility Association was taken in 2005 in Lucknow. We wish that this association moves more than thousand miles in future with support from all its members and every physician and gastroenterologist in world in general and India in particular interested in the well being of the sufferers of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, and research and education on this subject.
Asha Misra PhD
Governing Council Member, Indian Motility and Functional Diseases Association