Lung health and environment are integral to life: says Professor (Dr) KC Mohanty

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
(L to R) Film star Anil Kapoor, Dr Ishwar Gilada,
and Professor Dr KC Mohanty
[Watch video interview] [Listen or download podcast] Lung health and environment are both integral to sustainable living, said Emeritus Professor (Dr) Kishore Chandra Mohanty, who is a globally acclaimed lung health expert as well as devoted environment crusader. His living is the best example of what he teaches. A senior medical teacher, who has mentored many generations of chest physicians and doctors, and widely respected expert, Prof KC Mohanty shared his insights in lung health, environment, social development and spirituality at the recently convened National Conference on Pulmonary Diseases (NAPCON 2016).

He played a key role in founding of the Environmental Medical Association (EMA) in 1983. "About 15 years back I was coming via the Navi Mumbai area and I could not breathe because of too much of smoke. I was told that the smoke was there as rag pickers burned garbage to extract metal from it. At that time Justice Ranganath Misra was Chairman of Human Rights Commission. I wrote to him that a basic human right was to have clean air to breathe, potable water to drink and unadulterated food to eat. He flew to Mumbai, addressed a press conference, and ordered the CM of Maharashtra to address this issue. And it did stop. But 2 years back it has started again" shared Prof KC Mohanty.

Mentoring younger doctors

Emeritus Director Professor (Dr) KC Mohanty
"When I did my MD in 1970, to present a research paper in an international conference took me 6 years. But to present a research paper in a national conference in Jaipur proved to be a bigger task. So the day I took over as Head of the Department (HoD), I told all my students to present at least 3 research papers during the time they were with me. Since 1982 I have stopped presenting papers in conferences because I have passed over the mantle to my juniors to present. Since last 5 years we have been holding quizzes all over India. Initially we chose 20 quiz anchors for final round at NESCON. 216 students have been awarded scholarships to attend this conference (NAPCON). I am grateful to my students including Dr Ishwar Gilada, that despite all odds, they made it a huge success!" shared Prof KC Mohanty.

Lead from the frontline!

Prof KC Mohanty shared an inspiring tale: A farmer divided his farm property equally amongst his 2 sons. After 5 years the younger son’s property doubled, but the elder one's halved. The elder one asked his younger brother the reason for this, as both had been doing farming. He said "I always tell my workers 'Come let us do the farming'. But you tell them 'Go and do the farming'. This is the difference."

Sharing three lessons from his life, Prof KC Mohanty said:
  • Set an example yourself and lead from the front. Say 'Come, let us do together' and not 'Go and do it'
  • Do not wait for others to come and help you. Develop and improve your own competence and strength to be able to do your work.
  • Believe in the dignity of labour. Do not treat any job to be below your dignity. What has to be done should be done without hesitation. And do not blame others.
"I have been trying that all the villagers imbibe these qualities. I have imbibed them in my life as well. It is because of these qualities only that the people of my adopted village (in Maharashtra) have prospered" said Prof Mohanty.

Are we on the path to end TB by 2030?

Prof KC Mohanty strongly advocates for individualised regimens for TB patients, especially drug resistant TB patients. It is important to diagnose TB accurately and treat individual patients with medicines that are effective on them, and ensure completion of treatment and cure. This will also help in cutting the transmission of TB infection.

"There is no strait jacket formula for TB cure. In case of MDR-TB and XDR-TB treatment regimen for all patients cannot be same. The only one step that can help is to find new drugs. Rifampicin was discovered in 1963. After that there have been no new significant drugs. All of them are antibiotics and are not safe drugs for long term use. What is required today is combined and coordinated efforts, especially among the BRICS countries - they can pool their resources. Governments and employers need to prioritise TB as do not they want healthy workforce?"

Prof KC Mohanty added "To control the spread of TB, we need to provide an option of multistoried sanatoria with good ventilation, at some distance from populated cities and towns. People who need care should be able to live here and be cared for. It is important to ensure that every TB patient completes effective treatment successfully and TB infection spread is curtailed too."

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
15 December 2016