NCSM Head Wins Global Cancer Leadership Award

Dr M. Murallitharan of the National Cancer Society Malaysia was awarded Global Best Cancer CEO at the General Assembly of the Union for International Cancer Control.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Dr Murallitharan Munisamy of the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) was awarded ‘Global Best Cancer CEO’ for outstanding leadership and service to Malaysia through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement was made on October 11, 2022, at the General Assembly of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the largest global non-governmental cancer organisation worldwide, with over 1,180 member organisations.

Held biennially, the UICC Best CEO Award is chosen among heads of cancer control organisations worldwide. The theme for 2022 was leadership through crisis, focusing on achievements throughout 2020 to 2021.

Each leader had to demonstrate resilience and drive in managing the organisation through the Covid-19 pandemic, innovative thinking and creativity, a collaborative spirit, and the achievement of a concrete, positive impact.

“This is an incredible honour not only for me, but also to the society and our country,” said Dr Murallitharan. “The recognition is a testament of the resilience and capabilities of Malaysia and Malaysians in overcoming global crises.

“We are proud to show the power of civil societies in mitigating a public health crisis and that we were able to serve our nation.”

Dr Murallitharan was recognised for his success in leading NCSM as medical director to adapt and strengthen its services for Malaysians living with cancer and other non-communicable diseases. This included:

  • The NCSM Covid-19 Vaccination Support Programme, in which he pioneered the house-to-house vaccination programme for the bedridden, severely ill, and those unable to travel. To date, NCSM has provided over 150,000 doses of vaccines across nine states.
  • The NCSM telehealth solution across Malaysia, in which he adapted the organisation’s psychosocial support services for cancer patients and caregivers to a virtual format, and consolidated the services into a centralised telehealth system with the support of Yayasan Hasanah.
  • The NCSM-Etiqa Malaysian Breast Cancer Screening and Detection Ecosystem, in which Malaysian women under age 40 and in B40 communities receive free and comprehensive breast cancer screening services.
  • Closing the cancer care gap via a direct purchase scheme for targeted therapy for patients with prostate cancer as well as increasing free access to diagnostic services for underprivileged patients.

“We are extremely proud of Dr Murallitharan’s win – this prestigious award is a global recognition of his tireless work – not just for the organisation, but also for Malaysians,” said NCSM president Dr Saunthari Somasundaram.

“His dedication is demonstrated in every action and day – he has stood in flooded water in rural areas during vaccinations; answered questions from patients day and night; and united the organisation through our response against Covid-19. The impact is evident – we served 1,430,000 people in Malaysia through health education, advocacy, care, and support across 2020 and 2021.”

At the UICC Global Assembly, UICC president Anil D’Cruz said: “In Dr Murallitharan, there is a civil society leader who safeguarded the frontline services of his organisation while playing a crucial role in his country’s Covid-19 response.”

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