Dr Kamal Kishore Chopra (Director, State Tuberculosis Training and Demonstration Centre and New Delhi TB Centre, New Delhi) was conferred the Dr PRJ Gangadharam award for the year 2019, the 20th in the series. This award was presented at the hands of Shri Dhirubhai S Mehta (President, Kasturba Health Society) at a program organized by the Kasturba Health Society and Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences on the 18th of November 2019.
Dr Mrs P Narang (Chairperson of the award committee and Emeritus Professor of Microbiology) informed that the award was instituted at MGIMS by Mrs Shakunthala Gangadharam in the fond memory of her late husband Dr PRJ Gangadharam. "Dr Ganagadharan was an international figure who had devoted all his life towards tuberculosis research and control. The award is presented annually to an Indian scientist who has contributed substantially towards the fight against TB. The award carries a citation, a certificate of honour and cash award of Rs. 25, 000/-", she informed.
Dr Chopra is an acclaimed Respiratory Physician, teacher and researcher. For past three decades, Dr Chopra has dedicated himself in the service of TB patients and disease control. Dr Chopra joined New Delhi TB Centre as Medical Officer in 1990 and with his dedicated and committed service, became the Director of the Centre in 2010, the post that he continues to hold today. Dr Chopra’s experience in TB research is vast having undertaken more than 24 extramural research projects dealing with varied aspects of tuberculosis like prevalence, Annual Risk of TB infection, HIV-TB co infection, impact of RNTCP and new diagnostic modalities. Most praiseworthy is his work among the marginalised communities like child labour, slum dwellers, prison inhabitants, night shelter population and drug abusers. His scientific interest has placed him as member of various scientific and ethics committees for framing policies and programs. He has also contributed over eight chapters on TB in various books and published many articles in National and International journals besides being a reviewer for prestigious scientific publications.
Mr Dhirubhai Mehta in his address said that “Today TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (ranking above HIV/AIDS) but with timely diagnosis and treatment it can be cured and onward transmission of infection prevented. Therefore, to say that ending TB epidemic is a wishful thinking is not correct. With Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to end TB epidemic in India by 2025 much wanted concerted efforts are ongoing in the program and never in the history has the disease received so much attention and funds for control as is being done today. With the introduction of new drugs for multidrug resistant TB (MDR) the scenario has become more optimistic and the global pressure on pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of these drugs and make them more affordable is showing results. No miracles are going to happen but slowly and steadily, we can win the race, concerted and extensive efforts must continue at all levels whether big or small." On an optimistic note, he said 'TB Hare Ga, Desh Jeete Ga'.
Dr Chopra in his oration talked about drug resistance in TB. He said that though lot of attention is being given to multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR –TB), resistance to single drug is also important and for treatment the resistant drug should be replaced in the regimen with another drug to which the bacteria is sensitive. He informed that when data of patients who had mono resistance to isoniazid and who were treated with first line drugs was reviewed, a failure rate of around 49% and subsequent resistance to rifampicin upto 40 % was observed. On the other hand, he also emphasised that diagnosis of MDR –TB should never be made on clinical and radiological criteria alone even if there is no improvement after several months of treatment.
Dr Vijayshree Deotale, Organising Secretary and Head of the Department of Microbiology, proposed the vote of thanks. The program ended with National Anthem.