Bengaluru: City-based oncologist Dr U S Vishal Rao has been honoured with the '2017 Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence' for his contribution towards the fight against use of tobacco in Karnataka.
Dr Rao is the Chief of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology at Healthcare Global Enterprise Cancer Hospital, as well as a Member of the high-level committee on tobacco control for the Karantaka Government and patron, Voice of Tobacco Victim (VoTV), India.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) presented the award to Dr Rao at its annual gala on May 10 in Washington. CTFK is a part of Bloomberg and World Health Organisation's Tobacco Free Initiative partners working towards tobacco control across the world.
"As a surgeon, I see the impact of tobacco use first hand in my patients," Dr Rao said. "Treating patients already suffering from the horrible burden of tobacco-related diseases is not enough. We must implement strong laws that help prevent Indians from starting to smoke. With strong government commitment, collaboration across sectors, and fierce advocates willing to champion the cause, I know we can greatly reduce the burden of tobacco use," he added.
"CTFK is proud to recognise Dr Rao as a tireless tobacco control and public health advocate," said Matthew L Myers, President, CTFK. Dr Rao's commitment to those suffering from the impacts of tobacco use and to prevent its use by future generations sets him apart as a true champion for tobacco control in India, he added.
The Wilkenfeld Award was established to honour late Judy Wilkenfeld, the founder of Tobacco-Free Kids' international programme and a leader in the adoption of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the influential international treaty that commits countries to take strong action to reduce tobacco use.
The award is given annually to an international tobacco control advocate who has made major contributions to reducing tobacco use in low-and middle-income countries and who inspires others to do the same.