Schieffellin Institute of Health - Research and Leprosy Centre(SIH-R & LC) located near Vellore in Tamilnadu, was established in 1955 to care for the leprosy patients in and around Vellore and to set up a research institution to probe into the multifaceted problems of leprosy. Dr. Robert Cochrane was the moving force behind this venture.
260 acres of open scrubland, 20 Km from Christian Medical College (CMC) hospital, Vellore and 4 Km from any approach road was obtained from the Government. With the close cooperation of The Leprosy Mission (TLM) and the American Leprosy Missions (ALM) and CMC, the project gradually materialized.
The Institute is named in honor of Mr. William J Schieffelin, then President of the ALM, which funded the building project. Dr. Ida Scudder the founder of CMC turned the sod on 6th September 1952. Mr. William Bailey, Secretary of Southern Asia TLM, supervised the programme. The buildings were completed and the Schieffelin Leprosy Research Sanatorium (as it was then known) was declared open on 20th June 1955.
The Schieffelin Leprosy Research Sanatorium was renamed the Schieffelin Leprosy Research & Training Centre in 1974. The institution was registered as a company in 1977 and became independent from all three founding organizations.
Over the past five decades SIH & RC treated leprosy and its complications, carried out state of the art research to understand the disease, and trained all levels of health personnel in management of leprosy.
SIH - R & LC Contributions:
SIH - R & LC’s contributions to different aspects of leprosy are significant.
The leprosy control programme in a defined geographical area around Karigiri started in the sixties and working in collaboration with the Govt. of India, WHO and ILEP organizations, the prevalence was brought down from 250 / 10,000 to less than 1 per 10,000 in 2006 and leprosy integrated into general health
- Pioneering clinical, epidemiological and laboratory research studies into the disease have thrown light on the intriguing aspects of leprosy.
- Dr.Paul Brand\'s path breaking innovation of tendon transfer surgery for leprosy deformed hands and feet was perfected at Karigiri. This has transformed the limbs and lives of thousands in India and all over the world.
- A unique animal laboratory was set up in 1969 to grow leprosy bacilli in the foot pad of mouse and carry out research as this bacteria does not grow in artificial media like other bacteria
- Many best practice methods in the management of leprosy and its complications were evolved.
- Invention of Micro Cellular Rubber (MCR) in 1965 addressed the problem of injury and ulceration of feet.
- It was in Karigiri\'s control area that the Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) was field-tested by the WHO in 1982. The treatment regimen had formatting impacts on the national History of Leprosy.
Half a century hence, SIH-R & LC, Karigiri continues to focus on leprosy being a tertiary referral centre for management of leprosy, training health care workers in leprosy in the integration phase and carrying out research in unsolved issues of leprosy.
Over the past decades SIHRLC has grown into a centre of excellence in tertiary care centre for leprosy services, International Leprosy training centre and a State of the art leprosy research centre
Since Integration of leprosy into general health services in 1997, SIH-R & LC has collaborated with the government in taking on TB, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and Disabilities program in its geographical area. Since 1998 it also developed into a quality secondary care centre adding on services such as General Medicine, General Surgery, OG and Pediatrics to already existing dermatology, Orthopedics and Ophthalmological services .
The services of this institution are delivered in three centers – Two First Referral units located in Katpadi (PBIHC) and Gudiyattam, and a Base Hospital located at Karigiri. The First referral units provide OP services while the Base Hospital provides OP/IP services with excellent operation theatre and support .All units are equipped well with facilities, established laboratory and other supporting facilities.
In 2006, in order to reflect the integrated nature of the institution ,the institution was renamed as SIH-RLC.