Dr. Jatin P. Shah, of New York, conceived the establishment of an international body bringing together all specialists involved in the care of patients with Head and Neck Cancer worldwide. He presented this thought to the Executive Council of the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, (SHNS) at its Retreat in the summer of 1985 and sought support from the SHNS. The proposal was received enthusiastically by the SHNS, and he was encouraged to proceed By August of 1986, leaders of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies worldwide were contacted to explore the feasibility of establishment of an International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies with the purpose of “establishing channels of communication to enhance exchange of information and improving knowledge as well as exploring new directions in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with head and neck cancer”. This proposal was enthusiastically received by leaders in the field from various parts of the world, culminating in the formation of a steering committee which met on May 1, 1987, at the Grosvenor House, in London. Representatives of sixteen Head and Neck Organizations from North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia were present. The steering committee drafted the constitution and bylaws of the Federation which was subsequently ratified by the Governing Council which consisted of one member from each member organization in the Federation. Dr. Jatin Shah was elected Secretary General by unanimous vote of the Governing Council.
Initial programs of the Federation consisted of enlarging the membership of the Federation with compilation of a newsletter, development of an international directory of members of component member societies and organization of World Congresses.Over the years the Federation has grown with a membership of 43 Head and Neck oncologic organizations, representing 65 countries, from every part of the world. Annual Newsletters were published initially, and these were eventually transitioned into an active and current Web site. (www.ifhnos.org) The Federation is able to reach over 5000 specialists, located in nearly every corner of the world, providing care to patients with head and neck cancer through membership of its component societies. The Federation has successfully attained its initial goal and mission of establishing channels of communication to foster camaraderie amongst professionals involved in the care of patients with head and neck cancer.