Assam-based oncologist among winners of 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Assam-based oncologist among winners of 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Sep 01, 2023 01:48 AM IST

Ravi Kannan moved to Assam’s Silchar with his wife, Seeta, from Chennai in 2007 to take charge of the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

Oncologist Ravi Kannan, a recipient of India’s fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri and the director of Assam’s Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (CCHRC), has been named one of the four winners of the 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel prize.

Oncologist Ravi Kannan. (HT PHOTO)
Oncologist Ravi Kannan. (HT PHOTO)

Kannan described the award as an honour for his hospital and added he would receive it only as its head. “We all are working as a team and everyone is contributing equally to make this project a success. Not only those who are working here but the people who are supporting from outside, they are also the winners,” said Kannan, who is from Chennai.

Kannan moved to Silchar with his wife, Seeta, in 2007 to take charge of the CCHRC. He worked earlier as a surgeon at Chennai’s Adyar Cancer Institute and was awarded Padma Shri for his contribution to the health sector.

Kannan, who believes healthcare facilities should be available in every locality, has helped start clinics in Assam’s Karimganj, Hailakandi and Dima Hasao to make follow-ups easy for patients. He said CCHRC’s follow-up ratio is more than 90% now and that it was once below 50%. Kannan supervised the first microvascular surgery of a cancer patient there in 2012. It was also the first such procedure conducted in the Northeast.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma congratulated Kannan for winning the prestigious award and said the doctor has “played an impactful role in transforming cancer care in Assam, especially in rural areas.”

Kannan, son of a decorated Indian Air Force officer, said both state and central governments support them with health schemes such as Atal Amrit Abhyan, and that the poor were getting better treatment easily. “We are a society-run centre but whenever we ask for any support, the government never says no.”

Kannan underlined that cancer is curable like any other disease. “I do not want to see a single person dying without dignity because he or she has cancer.” He added people in Assam and other parts of the northeast are more prone to cancer because of their lifestyles. “There is nothing wrong with air or water which is a popular myth. People in the Northeast consume tobacco, betel nuts, and alcohol a lot. There is a lack of exercise and proper food. People are not even aware of the severity of cancer. Once it is detected, they become helpless and some people hide it. We have to fight this mindset and have been doing it for over a decade.”

Kannan’s mother, Indumati, said she knew one day her son would get such recognition. “My husband and I always wanted to make our son a doctor because with this profession he can serve common people. He was always a humble child and dedicated to his work. He is not overexcited about the recognition, rather he is hopeful that with this he can help more people. We are a simple South Indian vegetarian family, living in one of the most beautiful places in the country.”

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