Lives of the fellows

Mohammed Ibrahim

b.31 December 1911 d.6 September 1989
MB Calcutta(1938) MRCP(1949) FRCP(1967) FCPS Pakistan

Mohammed Ibrahim was born in the Indian district of Murshidabad, West Bengal, where his father Mohammad Kismat Ullah was a landlord. After his early schooling, he entered the University of Calcutta to study medicine. Soon after graduation he became house physician at Calcutta Medical College and subsequently worked as emergency officer and senior demonstrator of practical pharmacy. In 1945 he was promoted to the rank of resident physician and held this post until the partition of India in 1947, when he opted for Pakistan and was appointed civil surgeon, Chittagong district, with additional duties as superintendent of Chittagong General Hospital and lecturer in medicine at Chittagong Medical School.

After a brief visit to Britain for postgraduate training, he obtained his membership of the College and then returned to India to join Dhaka Medical College in the post of additional physician. He was later appointed professor of clinical medicine, 1954-61. In 1962 he was appointed principal and professor of medicine to Sir Salimullah Medical College (SSMC). Mohammed Ibrahim was an able administrator and a superb clinical teacher. The SSMC had been upgraded from a medical school, offering diplomas, to a medical college granting graduation degrees and it needed both physical and academic development. Ibrahim possessed great persuasive abilities which enabled him to motivate the administration and they got on with the task. Its success bears testimony to his dedication and sense of responsibility.

In 1956 Mohammed Ibrahim founded the Diabetic Association of Pakistan which is today the WHO regional collaborating centre for diabetes research in south-east Asia. It had a dynamic social welfare department and offered a free service to thousands. Over the years its activity expanded and it became known as the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM). In recognition of Ibrahim’s work BIRDEM has now acquired the name ‘Ibrahim Memorial Diabetes Centre’.

Not everything in Mohammed Ibrahim’s life went smoothly; he had to face opposition from various sources and also from political personalities. He was ordered to leave East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and as a punishment was forced to join Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi as professor of medicine. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise; he established the Diabetes Association in Karachi, then capital of Pakistan, and became director of the medical centre as well as professor of medicine. Ibrahim was chairman of the Pakistan Medical Research Council from 1969-71.

In 1971, with the establishment of Bangladesh, Ibrahim returned there and retired from government service. This gave him the opportunity to actively contribute in several fields such as the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Bangladesh Society for the Aged. He was elected a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan and of the Royal Colleges of London and Glasgow. He was also adviser to the President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, a responsibility he discharged with great success.

Mohammed Ibrahim was both a medical scientist and a social worker of international repute. His integrity was absolute, as was his love of his fellow human beings; even to his critics he remained friendly. He married Sakina Asia in 1930 and they had six children; three sons and three daughters. Apart from his work, he enjoyed gardening, playing cards and reading.

N Islam

[J.Bangladesh Coll.Phys.& Surg.,1990,7(2),53]

(Volume IX, page 258)

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