ICanServe Foundation was among the Philippine based-cancer advocacy groups invited by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) to meet one of this year’s awardees, Indian surgical oncologist Dr. Ravi Kannan. The meeting, held on November 10 at the Ramon Magsaysay Center, was preceded by a tour of the Philippine General Hospital’s Cancer Institute led by the institute’s chairman, Dr. Jorge Ignacio. Representing ICanServe were its president Nikoy de Guzman and Advocacy Committee members Victoria Arjona and Giselle Arroyo.
Recognized for his contribution to poverty reduction through healthcare, Dr. Kannan revolutionized cancer treatment in Assam province through people-centered and pro-poor programs. He is credited for the transformation of the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (CCHRC) into the leading comprehensive cancer care facility in India’s North Eastern Region (NER), where accessing medical care is challenging.
Despite facing barriers like poverty and long distances, Kannan implemented pro-poor initiatives such as free treatment, lodging, and home care programs. This approach significantly increased patient compliance rates from 28% to 70%. Today, CCHRC annually provides free or subsidized cancer care to around 5,000 new patients, emphasizing accessibility over financial constraints.
The meeting between Dr. Kannan, his team, Dr. Jan Llevado and Vincent Sumergido from the Department of Health Disease Prevention Control Bureau, and ICanServe, served as an opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, and identify possible areas for collaboration in aid of improving cancer care.
Established in 1958, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s premier prize and highest honor. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the seventh Philippine president after whom the Award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader. The other awardees for 2023, the Awards’ 65th anniversary, are Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (Philippines), Eugenio Lemos (Timor Leste) and Korvi Rakshand (Bangladesh).