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  Asia-Pacific
Obituary of Dr. Naresh Chandra Misra
Founder of Surgical Oncology in India Dies
By Bobby Ramakant
Asia Correspondent
Surgical operation

"Dedication to treat people challenged with cancer humanely is not only my mission, it's my life. I am not treating a disease, rather a human being" were the words of Dr. Naresh Chandra Misra, who was a doyen in the discipline of Surgical Oncology in the World. Recipient of the prestigious Dr BC Roy National Award, he passed away in the early morning wee hours of Friday September 15, 2006. He has been fighting renal failure since past three years.

In early 1970s, when he was one of the few cancer surgeons in United States, working at Sloan Memorial Kettering Cancer Centre, New York, it was a seemingly impossible challenge to return back to India, and settle down in the small city of Lucknow. Leave aside Lucknow, even in entire India the discipline of Surgical Oncology was non-existent and therefore the medical speciality of Oncology was in very juvenile stage in the country. Dr. NC Misra came back to India and decided to establish the discipline of Surgical Oncology in his alma mater medical school of King George's Medical College (Lucknow).

He has worked extensively over four decades and was a key leader in establishing not only the discipline of Surgical Oncology in KGMC but also in the country, especially Northern India. Today India boasts of super-speciality courses of M.Ch. in Surgical Oncology in leading institutes for surgeons, including Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai, Kidwai Memorial Cancer Centre in Bangalore and of course KGMC. Indian Association of Surgical Oncologists (IASO) is a massive body with over 1000 Cancer Surgeons actively involved in the body. Dr. NC Misra Oration Award instituted many years before is one of the most coveted awards in surgical Oncology in India, and list of awardees of past few years include one of the finest authorities in the field of Oncology in the World.

The Division of Oncology was created in the Department of Surgery, KGMC, Lucknow in 1979 by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Prof. NC Misra headed this unit for the next 17 years and under his leadership the Oncology Division established itself as a centre for excellence in academics, research, training and clinical service. It has over the years shouldered the major responsibility of providing tertiary care for cancer patients from Uttar Pradesh, the neighbouring states of India and Nepal.

Dr. NC Misra retired as Professor and Head of Department of Surgery at KGMC, and was the founder-Chief of Surgical Oncology unit. He held key positions including that of President, in distinguished organizations like Indian Medical Association, Association of Surgeons of India, Indian Association of Surgical Oncologists and Indian Society Against Smoking.

Dr. NC Misra was a noted tobacco control advocate, spearheading awareness programmes amongst youth across the UP state.

One of his pioneering initiatives was Charter for Cancer Control, where he sought support and commitment of key stakeholders in our society to build momentum for cancer control, care and treatment in India.

As it is said, success is not complete without a successor and today although Dr. NC Misra has passed away, and it is a huge loss not only to the nation, but also to the medical fraternity, he has left behind a vibrant IASO with thousands of cancer surgeons in India, including his son, Dr Sanjeev Misra, who has made him proud by returning back to his alma mater institution of KGMC as Surgical Oncologist himself from Sloan Memorial kettering Cancer Centre in New York. His life-partner and leading paediatrician in India Dr. Prem Kumari Misra retired as Principal of KGMC years back. His daughter Ms Sumita is a senior IAS officer (Haryana).

Bobby Ramakant is a co-author of a book "President's Choice" which is a compilation of biographies of leading Surgeons in India of President's Choice, including Dr. NC Misra. He can be contacted at bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)



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Bobby Ramakant, who serves as The Seoul Times' Asia correspondent, is a member of NATT, Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals, and edits Weekly MONiTOR series, reporting violations of tobacco control policies as a senior public health and development journalist. He writes for newspapers in 11 countries and can be reached at bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)

 

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