Leadership

 Cancer Institute, Adayar, Chennai, India is making strides into cancer treatment for the poor and the needy due to the undaunting efforts of leaders like Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, Dr. Krishnamurthy, and Dr. Shanta. Here is short bio of these leaders whose dedication has lead the way to better and affordable cancer treatment in India.

Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy (1886-1968)

Dr. Muthulakshmi ReddyDr. Muthulakshmi Reddy was the first woman to graduate in medicine in 1912. She founded WIA in 1918 and was its president for 30 years. She became a member and vice president of Madras Legislative Assembly in 1927. In 1930 she founded Avvai Home for orphaned girls and daughters of devadasis. She initiated the Cancer Relief Fund of WIA to set up a specialty cancer hospital in 1949. Her dream became true in 1954 when she founded the Cancer Institute. For her yeomen service she was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1956.

She was one of the women pioneers who stood for the cause of liberating India from the British. She was a women activist and a social reformer too. Dr. Muthulakshmi had many firsts to her recognition. She was the first girl student to be admitted into a men’s College, the first woman House Surgeon in the Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital, the first woman legislator in British India, the first Chairperson of the State Social Welfare Advisory Board and the first woman Deputy President of the Legislative Council and the first Alderwoman of the Madras Corporation Avvai home .

Find more information about Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy in Wikipedia.

Dr. Krishnamurthy (1919 – 2010), Doyen of Oncology

Dr. KrishnamurthyRarely do we see people who are filled with passion and who direct all their energies towards their passion. One such man was Dr. S.Krishnamurthy. He made it his mission in life to provide quality cancer care to the poor in India. His life was purposeful and totally dedicated to science and cancer care. Born to Dr. Muthulakshmi and Sundara Reddy, Dr. Krishnamurthy was educated in India and abroad.

In 1947, he went abroad to work as a Fellow of the Ellis Fischel State Cancer Hospital, Missouri, US., and later, at the Royal Cancer Hospital, London. Right through he immersed himself in Oncology, an interest that was to dictate the rest of his life.

“There is enough wealth in our nation to perpetuate an evil and vicious caste of high priest; there is generosity enough to thrust memorials on men whose very lives were lived to demonstrate their emptiness; there is enough humanity to make a fetish and fashion of Ahimsa, but there is neither money nor wealth nor generosity nor humanity to build a home for the poor sufferers of cancer. I think it is time we transferred a little of our Ahimsa from our books to our lives.” – Dr. S. Krihnamurthy

Find more information about Dr. Krishnamurthy in The Hindu.

Dr. V. Shanta, current Chairperson of Cancer Institute, Adyar

Dr. V. ShantaDr. V. Shanta has been associated with Cancer Institute, Adyar since 1955 and has held several key positions including as its Director between 1980 and 1997. She is a member of the World Health Organization’s advisory committee. She received Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2005 for her tireless service to the study and treatment of cancer. She has also been conferred with Padma Bhushan by the Government of India as a recognition for her dedication and achievement.

Under her guidance Cancer Institute launched a project to create a registry, even for rural areas. The focus of the project is cancer prevention because prevention is cure, she says. “We have seen a revolution in cancer care. But, significant advances in medicine have increased medicare cost, making quality care difficult. Oncology care is neither accessible nor equitable,” she says. Her concern is that non-specialists treat cancer without consultation with oncologists now. She says treating children with cancer makes her happy as they would grow up and lead a normal life. Her only hope is to make medicare “affordable, accessible and equitable.”

Find out more information about Dr. Shanta in Wikipedia.