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Magsaysay award 2023 winner Assam-based surgical oncologist Dr Ravi Kannan: All you need to know about him

Magsaysay award: Indian doctor Ravi Kannan R, a surgical oncologist, left a key post in the Adyar Cancer Institute, a major cancer treatment facility in the southern Indian city of Chennai, to work and live in an impoverished northeastern rural region, where access to medical care was difficult.

Sheenu Sharma Edited By: Sheenu Sharma New Delhi Updated on: September 01, 2023 12:36 IST
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Image Source : TWITTER Dr Ravi Kannan

Magsaysay award 2023: Assam-based oncologist and a Padma Shri awardee, Dr Ravi Kannan R has been named as one of the four recipients of the 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered as Asia's Nobel Prize.

Renowned oncologist and Assam's first Magsaysay award winner Dr Ravi Kannan on Thursday (August 31) said the prestigious award is not about him, but for all those who have contributed to cancer care in the community. 

He said the award belongs to all the people who have joined hands to make the lives of those suffering from cancer better.

''The award is not about myself but about many people including 450 colleagues of the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, whose contribution is immense, and the not-for-profit society that set it up," Kannan told media after being announced as the distinguished recipient of the 'Hero For Holistic Healthcare' award on the 65th anniversary of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

"The award belongs to many people, the hospital and the community who have joined hands to make lives better for those suffering from cancer and I am just one of the many faces involved in this effort," the director of hospital said.

What Dr Ravi Kannan said after receiving this honour?

Kannan said they are now focusing on 'decentralising cancer care by setting up smaller hospitals in different parts of the state and even in Tripura so that people do not have to travel far to reach a hospital for treatment''.

He said satellite clinics have been started in Karimganj, Hailakandi and Dima Hasao district. 

''We have to go near people and focus on prevention, treatment and cancer care. We need a lot of support for infrastructure and equipment, which are one-time investments, but what we need most is human resources which is a recurring requirement'', the oncologist said.

Both state and central governments have always supported us and with government health schemes like Atal Amrit Abhyan and others, poor people are getting better treatment, he said.

"We are a society-run centre but whenever we ask for any support, the government never says no," he said.

Kannan said he wants to tell each and every patient that cancer is curable like any other disease. "I don't want to see a single person dying without dignity because he or she has cancer," he said.

Assam and other parts of the Northeast are more prone to cancer due to lifestyle of people as they consume a lot of tobacco, betel nuts and alcohol and they do not exercise much and follow proper diet, he said.

Know more about surgical oncologistDr Ravi Kannan:

Son of an Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, Kannan hails from Chennai where he earlier worked as a surgeon in Adyar Cancer Institute before moving to Silchar with his wife in 2007 to start the Cachar Cancer Hospital.

Kannan has been serving as director of Assam's Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (CCHRC) and before that, he was a surgeon at Chennai's Adyar Cancer Institute.

Indian doctor Ravi Kannan R, a surgical oncologist, left a key post in the Adyar Cancer Institute, a major cancer treatment facility in the southern Indian city of Chennai, to work and live in an impoverished northeastern rural region, where access to medical care was difficult.

In 2007, he led the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, a small hospital with a staff of just 23 that would later considerably expand and employ more than 450 personnel under his leadership.

It now provides free or subsidised cancer treatments to about 5,000 new patients a year. Its hospital teams travel long distances to train family members of rural patients in pain management and palliative care and provide free medicines. 

Kannan and his wife Seeta relocated to Assam’s Silchar town in 2007. He treats patients at the CCHRC at a nominal cost and the hospital is known for its best services to the cancer-affected people belonging to the marginalised segments in southern Assam as well as Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.

In order to make cancer treatment affordable to poor people, Dr Kannan has taken many steps in the last few years. One of these was to establish remote clinics in a few districts in the state.

Meanwhile, Indumati, Kannan's mother, claimed to have known that her son would eventually receive such acclaim.

"My husband and I always wanted to make our son a doctor so that he could help the common people," she continued. “Ravi has always been a modest child who is committed to his work. He is not very thrilled with the honour, but it will encourage him to do more work for the betterment of the people.”

What is Magsaysay Award?

Since 1958, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as the Asian Nobel Prize, has been bestowed upon over three hundred outstanding individuals and organizations whose selfless service has offered their societies and the world successful solutions to some of the most challenging problems of human development.

This award recognizes individuals and organizations in Asia, and to date, it has been awarded to over 300 individuals and organisations over the last 50 years.

Indians who have won Ramon Magsaysay Award in the past:

  • TN Seshan-1996- Former election commissioner
  • MS Subbulakshmi- 1974- Singer
  • Satyajit Ray- 1967 - Filmmaker
  • RK Laxman- 1984- Cartoonist
  • Dr Verghese Kurien- 1963- Agricultural scientist
  • MS Swaminathan- 1971- Scientist
  • Prakash Amte-2008- Indian medical doctor
  • P Sainath- 2007- Indian Columnist and author
  • Ravish Kumar- 2019 -Indian journalist
  • Kiran Bedi- 1994 - IPS officer 

Several others including- Vinoba Bhave, Mother Teresa, Jaiprakash Narayan, Satyajit Ray, MS Subbulakshmi, Arvind Kejriwal (2006), and Sonam Wangchuk also won this prestigious award. 

Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Dr Kannan:

Assam Chief Minister's Office in a post on 'X' said, "Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma extends his warm congratulations to Dr Ravi Kannan R on being bestowed with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2023. Dr Kannan has played an impactful role in transforming cancer care in Assam, especially in rural areas. He is also a Padmashree recipient."

Magsaysay foundation on Dr Ravi Kannan's award: 

He won the award for “his devotion to his profession's highest ideals of public service, his combination of skill, commitment and compassion in pushing the boundaries of people-centred, pro-poor health care and cancer care and for having built, without expectation of reward, a beacon of hope for millions,” the foundation said.

(With agencies inputs) 

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