Magsaysay Award: Goals achieved, huge opportunity missed for Kerala Model of healthcare?

A section of health experts feels the impact of such an award on the recipient’s  field of work and public in general would have been big.

Published: 05th September 2022 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2022 08:44 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Former health minister K K Shailaja got incredible attention within the country and abroad when the state, under her astute guidance, tackled Covid with the Kerala Model.

Yet, experts feel the state squandered an opportunity to showcase those achievements on a grand international platform when the CPM asked her to reject the Ramon Magsaysay Award, widely regarded as the Nobel Prize of Asia.

While numerous reasons — political and others — are being cited for not accepting the award, a section of health experts feels the impact of such an award on the field of work of the awardee and on the public in general would have been big.

ALSO READ | Defensive CPM tries to explain why Shailaja made to say ‘no

“The award proves that the system had worked well. Shailaja deserved it for her good leadership as a health minister. We could have used the platform to highlight our strengths in front of the world,” said Dr U Nandakumar, chairman of Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics (CAPSULE).

Nandakumar said the award reminds us that the world is watching our progress keenly.

“Such an award is important also because it can catch the imagination of youngsters who would be keen to take up roles in public health, thus encouraging future governments to invest in strengthening our foundation,” he added.

He cited the examples of former Magsaysay awardees Dr Baba Amte (work for poor leprosy patients) and Dr V Shanta (efforts to make quality and affordable cancer treatment accessible to all patients).

The award has only made more people aware of the cause behind the awardees, said Nandakumar.

“The role of public health system in the Kerala Model of development is well acknowledged. But the Magsaysay award proves that Kerala’s health sector has the capability to address the crisis and handle it well,” said Global Institute of Public Health (Thiruvananthapuram) Director K Rajasekharan Nayar.

While the health system, undoubtedly, is a collective effort, the award to a former health minister is considered an appreciation for the system as well.

ALSO READ | Not all in CPM were against accepting Magsaysay award

“Apart from political compulsions, there was no need to reject the recognition. It was an international acknowledgement for the improvement in the healthcare system and a moment of pride for Malayalis,” said health economist Rijo M John.

Dr V Ramankutty, a health economist, epidemiologist and an emeritus professor at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, had a different view.

“The people in public service are not functioning for awards. They have nothing to do with their growth as a politician. An award given in individual capacity has little role as far as the state is concerned,” he said.

India Matters


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