Dr Annie Wardlaw Jagannadham (1864–1894), LRCP, LRCS, and MPC, was the first Indian woman doctor to be entered onto the British Medical Register, and therefore the first Indian woman qualified to practice medicine in Britain. She was also the first Indian woman to obtain a registrable British diploma.
Annie Jagannadham was born on 30 May 1864 in Visakhapatnam, on the east coast of India. Her father, Rev. Pulipaka Jagannadham, was a Christian missionary, and her mother, Eliza Osborne, was a mission teacher. Her parentshad both converted from Hinduism. Annie was one of six children, the eldest of whom, her brother, P. Richard Hay Jagannadham, had similarly studied medicine at Edinburgh, and later went onto be a doctor in India.
By the 1870s there was an urgent need for women doctors in India to serve the local women of the Empire. However India, similar to Britain, denied the admission of women to medical colleges. Despite some resistance, Mary Scharlieb (from Britain) and three other women were admitted to Madras Medical College in 1875, carving a new path forward for women’s medical education. Less than a decade later in 1884, at the age of twenty, Jagannadham began her medical education at Madras Medical College. Like her predecessor Scharlieb, Jagannadham also studied practical midwifery under Arthur Mudge Branfoot, who was known to comment on the ‘folly and inadvisability of educating women as doctors’.