Recent decades have seen a rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases across the world, including cancer. In 2018 World Health Organisation had sounded an alarm for cancer and declared it the second leading cause of death globally.
In India, the cancer burden has more than doubled over the last 26 years, and according to Cancerindia.org, 2018 witnessed 784,821 cancer-caused deaths in the country. It is also estimated that 1.15 million new cancer cases were registered in 2018 and currently there are 2.25 million Indians living with the disease.
These statistics are extremely alarming, and many experts believe that early detection can be the key in reducing cancer-related death rates. However, a lack of awareness about cancer prevention, late-stage presentation, inaccessible diagnosis and inadequate in patient care are barriers impeding the current cancer diagnosis and treatment. Today, the need of the hour is for the corporate sector, academia and the government to come together to create awareness and change the “governance of care” for cancer patients in India.
One leader who is passionate to make a heart-warming difference in India’s fight against cancer is Suresh Ramu, Co-founder & CEO of Cytecare Hospitals. Ramu aims to create and nurture a healthcare delivery organization that is committed to high-quality, standardized and patient-oriented treatment in the true sense of the term.
An Inspirational Beginning
An alumnus from the globally renowned institutes of IIT-Madras and IIM-Calcutta, Ramu always aspired to be an engineer. He laid the foundation of his career as a consultant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers where he got the opportunity to work with a diverse range of industries.
The Launch of Cytecare
In 2011, Ramu together with co-founders Dr. Ferzaan Engineer, Himanshu Shah and Lalit Pai set up a clinical research solution organization. The company, focussed on clinical trial solutions, 70% of which was in research and development.
Cytecare Hospitals was the team’s dream project. Their personal experiences with cancer treatment and the yawning gap between what was available in India and the rest of the world was the motivation behind the hospital. Their India-centric research on the types and prevalence of cancer played a pivotal role in creating this venture.
Laying the Foundation For Cytecare Hospitals
Since inception in the year 2016, Cytecare Hospital has strived to remain at the forefront of innovative care solutions for patients. He worked tirelessly to find the right set of investors and a team of founding doctors, who believed in the vision of patient-care and organ-site focused cancer care.
The Co-Founders also believed in the importance of design in creating a center of excellence for cancer treatment. They ensured that he set up the right design team in place, both from the aesthetic as well as engineering perspectives.
On November 2016, they announced the launch of a state-of-the-art center, a 150-bed, nine-storied cancer hospital in Bangalore, providing integrated treatment for patients with cancer. The hospital boasts of a dedicated multi-disciplinary medical team that merges evidence-based protocols with targeted therapies and advanced technologies for greater precision and better treatment.
The clinical team also consists of cancer specialists for every organ. Their extensive knowledge of each organ site combined with world-class technologies and advanced treatment options combat the disease at every stage with accuracy and precision. Cytecare has a comprehensive oncology unit, which not only includes the core specialties – surgical, medical, radiation, nuclear medicine, diagnostics – but also pain and palliation, psycho-oncology, nutrition and navigator services, thus ensuring holistic patient care.
Milestones and Global Recognition
In a short period of time, the hospital achieved NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) and NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers) accreditation. Also, in 2019, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the leading European professional organization for medical oncology, presented Cytecare Hospitals with the 2019 ESMO Designated Centers of Integrated Oncology & Palliative Care certification. Cytecare is the first cancer hospital in India to receive the prestigious accreditation within 3 years of inception.
From treating Cytecare’s first patient to its first international patient and then the 10,000th patient, the dream project of the team has become a reality that is transforming cancer care and cancer treatment in India.
Making an Impact
Ramu believes that the Indian healthcare ecosystem is brimming with opportunities – right from creating centres of excellence for specialities, especially diseases like cancer, to spreading awareness about prevention. Over the next few years, he and his dedicated team plan to work on cancer education, early detection programs, timely diagnosis and the right treatment modalities to ensure a better outcome for cancer patients.
According to Ramu, due to the lack of sufficient private or government healthcare insurers, Indians have to spend a large amount of their hard earned money on healthcare, but this is not sustainable. He believes that it is essential for greater funding to be directed toward universal health coverage schemes in India.
With Cytecare, Ramu believes he and his team have taken the first steps in creating a healthier India. He aims to strengthen India’s fight against cancer by scaling the organization to make better cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management accessible across the country.
Commenting on his views on the industry, Ramu said, “As we step into a new decade, technology will play a significant role in bridging the gap between cancer diagnosis and treatment facilities. Health analytics, algorithms and big data from genomics and proteomics are already helping practitioners understand the different diseases that encompass the broad cancer category. This knowledge, coupled with state-of-the-art technologies like nanomedicine, robotics, and lasers for surgical and radiation treatments, is revolutionizing cancer care.
Additionally, modern targeted drugs such as immunotherapy are paving paths by attacking the immune system directly. Together, these ever-evolving technologies will make cancer cure accessible and affordable for all.”
Advice to The Next Generation
When asked about his advice to the next generation, Ramu concluded the interview by saying “Diseases are constantly evolving, as are technologies, and we need to imbibe a culture of consistent and continuous learning, invest in research, and assimilate knowledge to be ahead of the curve.
My only advice to medical science enthusiasts and health-tech entrepreneurs is to evolve with the times and rise to challenges to make a difference. I believe that’s the most inspiring thing about being in the healthcare space–the ability to change lives, to save lives.”