September 2001

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Vol. I Number 3

More than news & views -­ A complete source for South Asians

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A SINCERE WISH:
GOOD HEALTH TO ALL
- Dr Devanesen

By Suresh Jaura

"Heart Disease amongst South Asians" is my main concern, says Dr Sudarshan Devanesen, who was recently appointed Member of the Order of Canada by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson.

The award citation reads:

"Former Chief of Family and Community Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, he has been a positive role model and mentor to hundreds of medical residents, family physicians and nurse practitioners. Believing in the holistic approach to medicine, he combines the medical and psycho-social aspects of patient care to produce a viable alternative to traditional models. In addition, he is an expert in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases affecting Canadians of South Asian descent and has worked tirelessly with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to launch education programs aimed at risk reduction."

Sudarshan has honoured the Hippocrates Oath, which in part says: "that you will lead your lives and practice your art in uprightness and honour" and as further mentioned in the Oath, "And now, if you will be true to this, your oath, may prosperity and good repute be ever yours",  he has got his reward.

Sudarshan studied at the Bishop Cotton School in Bangalore and moved to Madras Christian College and then to Christian Medical College, where he completed his medical studies and decided to practise in the remote villages of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. This move appears to be the first step in his dedication to the medical profession.

Sudarshan came to Canada in 1972 to practise in Newfoundland. He recalls there were less than a dozen families of South Asian-origin. He moved to Toronto and decided to become a family physician instead of working as a surgeon, for which he was trained. Towards that end, he joined St Michael's Hospital and studied at the University of Toronto.

Dr Devanesen participated with others in a study titled, "Differences in risk factors, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease between ethnic groups in Canada: the Study of Health Assessment and Risk in Ethnic groups (SHARE)" which was published in The Lancet, 22 July 2000 issue. The study concluded:

"Within each ethnic group and overall, the degree of carotid atherosclerosis was associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease. South Asians had the highest prevalence of this condition compared with Europeans and Chinese (11%, 5%, and 2%, respectively)"

That has made Dr Devanesen determined to educate South Asians to the fact that they are "most at risk for heart disease amongst all others in Canada- because of genetics, dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle and the stress of living in Canada".

We wish him good health and success in his determination to make South Asians aware that they "have to wake up ... and wake up to good health quickly" as he is reported to have told readers of an ethnic weekly Voice in Toronto.