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Meet Dr. Ravi Kannan, winner of Magsaysay Award for his work on cancer treatment

Dr. Ravi Kannan, who heads the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre has been chosen for the Ramon Magsaysay Award (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@ranojpeguassam)

Inspired and encouraged by his mother to become a doctor, India’s well-known oncologist Dr. Ravi Kannan, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2020 has been chosen for this year’s Magsaysay Award as the “Hero for Holistic Healthcare”. Hailing from Tamil Nadu, Dr. Kannan is son of a former Indian Air Force personnel who at present is the Director of Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Assam.

Speaking to the media, he said that it was his mother, Indumathy who too wanted to become a doctor but was unable to due to family circumstances, who motivated him to choose the medical profession.

For a long time he was working at a cancer institute in Chennai when Cachar Cancer Hospital’s Dr Chinmoy Chowdhury spotted him. Later, Dr. Chowdhury was keen on bringing Dr. Kannan to the hospital in Assam asked him to join. Initially, he as well as his wife Seethalakshi were reluctant but later they agreed and in 2007 Dr. Kannan joined the institution.

Talking about winning the Magsaysay Award, the oncologist said it was just him alone who was the winner as all the 450 staff members at the hospital, people of the community and his supporters were the winners of the award.

Cachar Cancer Hospital was established in 1996 in Silchar which is located in southern Assam. Under Dr. Kannan’s able guidance and leadership, from a hospital with limited facilities, CCHRC today boasts of 28 departments covering oncology, pathology, radiology, microbiology, epidemiology, tumour registry and palliative care, and other services and specializations. The staff which was once just 23 in number has grown to 450. He has revolutionised the hospital to serve more than 20,000 cancer patients for free.

The patients coming to CCHRC are from the southern part of the northeast, including Assam’s Barak valley, Dima Hasao, Manipur and Tripura. Some also come from Bangladesh.

Elaborating about their selection of Dr. Kannan the Magsaysay Board stated: “In electing Ravi Kannan R. to receive the 2023 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes 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 in the Indian state of Assam, thus setting a shining example for all.”

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, established in 1957 is an annual award established on the legacy of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.