“When the sick approach the gates of the Institute, weak in body and spirit, and full of fear, there is only one response, you have to become part of them.”
These words by Dr. Viswanathan Shanta speak of her passion and dedication for her work and this is the philosophy on which she has lived her life.
The honorable president of India awarded Dr. V. Shanta with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour.
At 89, She is an inspiration for all of us. A prominent Cancer specialist, she is known for her outstanding and significant efforts in making quality and affordable cancer treatment available in the country. She is the Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai, which has been rated by the World Health Organization as the top ranking cancer center in the country.
Making cancer treatment accessible to all
She has been working tirelessly to ensure world class facilities and quality care for her patients. Despite facing many hurdles like financial crunch and difficulty in getting donations, to fund subsided treatments for the poor, she never looked back. Today, the Institute has 423 beds, of which 297 are free. Generally, 66% of them get free or subsidized treatment. She is also credited for developing India’s first programme for early detection of cancer in rural areas. She has trained hundreds of village nurses to screen rural women for cervical cancer.
Dr. V Shanta was born on March 11, 1927 at Mylapore, Chennai. She completed her graduation from Madras Medical College in 1949, and her M.D. in 1955.Despite the fact that she comes from a family of scientists and Nobel laureates – S. Chandrasekhar, her maternal uncle and Dr. C.V. Raman, her grand uncle – Dr. Shanta decided to become a doctor, inspired by Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, the first woman medical graduate in the country. According to her, she was driven more by the need to achieve something in life and to do something different.
When Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy set up the Cancer Institute in 1954, Dr. Shanta then had just finished her M.D and even though she had got through the public service examination, she took the decision of joining the cancer institute and hasn’t looked back ever since. Today, she is carrying forward this legacy as the Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute that has grown from a 12-bed, two-doctor cottage hospital to an institution that has a reputation for providing subsidized treatment to the poor. The Institute has 423 beds, of which 297 are free. Generally, 66% of them get free or subsidized treatment. She doesn’t think of a life beyond the institution and her selfless service is an inspiration for all humanity.
Compassion towards the society
Her relentless service and compassion is an example for today’s society.She runs one of the biggest and busiest cancer hospitals in India with the same passion and enthusiasm as she did when she had started out nearly 60 years ago. In her own words, “The journey has been long. I don’t see an end to it, simply because our work is never ending. What we have done is very little. There is much more to do. ”
Her Ramon Magsaysay Award citation aptly sums up her work. “In an era when specialized medical care in India has become highly commercialized, Dr. Shanta strives to ensure that the Institute remains true to its ethos, 'Service to all.’
The Logical Indian congratulates Dr. V. Shanta for for getting awarded with Padma Shri in recognition to her works. She is an inspiration to millions of Indians.
Author: Sumedha Mahajan