Dr. Geetha Nagasubramanian has scaled heights from modest beginning
A poor boy suffering from a congenital heart disease finds solace in the soothing words of an ebullient house surgeon at Madurai Medical College. She helps the boy by providing vitamin tablets and even sponsors the expenses of the family’s return to their hometown. This incident dates back to the late 60s. Today that house surgeon is a successful gynaecologist in London whose dedication in community service has fetched her the prestigious Asian Women of Achievements (AWA) award.
Meet Geetha Nagasubramanian, a Consultant Community Gynaecologist and Head of Service for Women and Young People’s Service in London. She was in the city to attend a felicitation function organised by her friends.
Dr. Geetha is a firm believer in the dictum, “service to mankind is service to God”. Her roots are in Karaikudi, where she pursued school education and pre university course (PUC). She was among one of the toppers in Madras University in the PUC and went on to join the Madurai Medical College. She was the first batch to pursue medical education under the newly formed Madurai University. Her marriage to a London-based practicing ophthalmologist S. Nagasubramanian, took her to the foreign land for a distinguished career.
“Even in a place like London, it is not easy for women to move up the ladder, particularly in medical profession, where number of men is more. In extreme cases, even discrimination against woman occurs,” she says.
Success in profession
She has to brave against all odds to succeed in her profession. As a community gynaecologist, she had a chance to act as a bridge between the primary and secondary health delivery system. She took over the responsibility of improving the health services of Tower Hamlets, a London borough, a deprived area, where concentration of ethnic minorities is more.
“More than 33 per cent were Bangladeshis, with very low awareness on health, especially in gynaecology. Moreover, they are very permissive society, attributing religious faith for every health complication. Bringing them out of that mould was a challenging task. Whenever I got an opportunity, I made them understand the issue and cooperate with me,” Dr. Geetha recounts.
Teenage pregnancy was not alien to those people due to the exposure and when improper family planning also added up, life became difficult for the health professionals, as they had to devise a plan to gain confidence of the people.
“I with my team started this Women and Young People’s Service, through which we were able to counsel young people and provide them with the health services they required. It worked wonders and increasingly people started to walk in,” she says.
In recognition of her services, the Medical Women’s Federation recommended her cause with Alwyn Williams, the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust, nominating her for the award by presenting the supporting document.
She won the award under the Public Sector category, which is sponsored by the Department of Communities and Local Government.
This award recognises and celebrates Asian women who have achieved success in senior executive or non-executive roles –— in the civil service, universities and national institutions such as National Health Services.
“The main objective of the award is to publicise the achievements of these inspiring women who can act as role models for the wider community,” she says.
The Federation acknowledged her contribution to the society and the economy as a whole, which reflected through her outstanding work for her organisation and in the daily lives of the community.
She has built up a ‘flagship for community gynaecology’ as it receives many visits from other parts of United Kingdom and also from abroad.
Contribution to community
Besides, she is also remembered for her contribution to the local community especially for her initiative to organise annual cultural festival at St. Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington, East London, since 2004 in celebration of the cultural diversity of the school community through music, dance and poetry promoting better understanding and appreciation of various cultures.
“She educated the wider community, replacing superstition and fear with reason and information,” the judges of the award had to say about Dr. Geetha.
Her professor, P. Advaitham, who was present here, commended her unconditional love and concern for people.
From a modest beginning she rose to fame with sheer love for humanity and her self-less service to the society.T. SARAVANAN