M. Krishnan Nair, founder-director of RCC, passes away

M. Krishnan Nair  

M. Krishnan Nair, renowned oncologist and founder-director of Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), passed away here on Thursday. He was 81.

Having single-mindedly pursued the dream of setting up the first modern and affordable cancer care centre in the State’s public sector, Dr. Nair’s name was synonymous with the institution he founded in 1981 and nurtured till his retirement in 2003.

Dr. Nair, who began his career as a tutor at the Radiology department of Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, underwent training in oncology at the NHS Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK, one of the largest cancer centres in Europe, in 1969.

Between 1972 and ‘81, Dr. Nair took the lead in developing the Radiology department at MCH as the Institute of Oncological Sciences, expanding infrastructure and cancer diagnostic and treatment modalities.

Convinced that a comprehensive approach was required to tackle cancer, which was emerging as a significant public health problem, he sought the help of the then Chief Minister, C. Achutha Menon, to lobby for a Centrally aided RCC for the State.

The Institute of Oncological Sciences at the MCH became the RCC in 1981. There was much resentment among his peers at the time that Dr. Nair was walking away with the entire Radiology department at MCH, but he pushed ahead with developing the institute.

Major milestones

Apart from the major developments in infrastructure and treatment modalities, some of the major milestones during his tenure included the setting up of regional RCC centres in districts, implementation of the 10-year Kerala Cancer Control Plan, launch of the Community Oncology department for creating awareness on the importance of early detection and care of cancer, the first paediatric oncology division in the State, oral morphine manufacturing unit, pain and palliative care unit, computerisation of outpatient departments, and telemedicine network (Onconet)

Free cancer-care scheme

Dr. Nair was concerned about the impoverishment of families caused by cancer and Cancer Care for Life was a care scheme he launched in 1985-86 to provide free cancer care to people. In later years, as the cases grew manifold, the scheme became unviable for the RCC.

A drug trial controversy in 1999-2000, when the RCC, in association with the Johns Hopkins University was accused of having conducted a series of drug trials on 26 patients, testing an experimental drug, M4N, created quite a scandal at the time and did cast a shadow on the institute.

Dr. Nair always emphasised the social, mental and economic costs of cancer and how much more needed to be done to holistically address the multi-dimensional impact of this malady. His efforts to make the RCC the State’s premier cancer-care institution were indefatigable. Dr. Nair was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2001.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan; Health Minister Veena George; Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan, among others, condoled the death of Dr. Nair.

Mr. Vijayan, in his condolence message, spoke about the peerless efforts of Dr. Nair in developing the RCC as a renowned cancer-care institution.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 2:55:39 AM |

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