Dr. Beena Devi CR (as of 26 May, 2018)

 

Though Dr Beena retired in November 2017, she is doing sessional work in DRO in addition to volunteering for Sarawak Hospice Society to see home care patients.

 

She began her career in Sarawak General Hospital in November 1992 as the Head of Department of Radiotherapy & Oncology. She graduated with an MD from Mangalore University, India in 1989 in Clinical Oncology, followed by a Master's Degree in Palliative Medicine from Edith Cowan University, Australia in 2000 becoming the first Oncologist in Malaysia to have a Master's Degree in Palliative Medicine.

 

Since 1992, she has worked actively to improve early diagnosis of cancer in the state of Sarawak (2.5 million population) notably by improving health care delivery and by creating awareness on early signs and symptoms of common cancers at all level of the health system and among the general population. Her work led to very significantly reducing the stage at diagnosis for breast and cervical cancer in Sarawak, a success story reported in WHO guidance on early diagnosis published in 2007. She was invited by the WHO regional office for Eastern Mediterranean region to give a key note address on this experience at the WHO office in Cairo.

 

She set up the first government based Palliative Care unit with home care service in Malaysia, training numerous personnel in Palliative Care. She was invited by Gajah Madah University (Indonesia) to share her experiences in downstaging and Palliative Care work with the University staff.

 

Dr Devi is also a world renowned expert in Nasopharyngeal cancer. Her research work established in 2002 that the incidence of this cancer is the highest in the world amongst Bidayuhs, an important ethnic group in Sarawak. This was a landmark finding. Since then she has been collaborating with World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer to establish the risk factors for this cancer which affects many in South East Asia.

 

Due to her effort, the department was recognised by European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) in 2009 for the high standard of comprehensive cancer care: a great recognition being the first hospital in SE Asia to achieve this award. Subsequently, the department won the award for the second term from 2013 to 2016. In 2015 she was selected to be Faculty Member of ESMO.

 

In 2011, Dr Beena was awarded the prestigious Paul Calabresi award by the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) for her contribution to the improvement in cancer care in Sarawak, first time for an Asian and for a woman.

 

In 2016, WHO recognized the department of Radiotherapy, Oncology & Palliative Care for their work on providing not only inpatient palliative care but also hospice home care. The part on hospice home care was possible because of the department's staff in participation and the formation of Sarawak Hospice Society.

 

In 2003, she was awarded Darjah Gemilang Kenyalang Sarawak and in 2011 was awarded Johan Bintang Kenyalang by the Sarawak State Government.

 

In 2018, she was invited by WHO as an expert for reviewing cancer control and treatment for a mission to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. She partakes regularly in advising WHO on topics related to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care. She has numerous publications in peer reviewed International journals and presented at international congresses. Her pioneering work on downstaging and palliative care has been adopted by World Health Organization for other countries to emulate.

 

Her keen interest in research has led to collaboration with various prestigiuos institutions: NCI, USA, IARC, France, FNCA, Japan and NUS, Singapore. In 2011, she successfully organized the first Congress on the Elderly in Asia and this was the first time this event was held in Asia.

 

She is a member of ESMO, National Representative for SIOG, MOS, MMA, INCTR, medical advisor for Sarawak Hospice Society. She is a reviewer for various international journals. In addition, she is supervisor for international students on attachment to the department.

 

As part of Sarawak Hospice Society's activities, she conducts various workshops related to improving staff's knowledge on managing terminally ill cancer patients. Her current project is to create awareness on Cancer prevention. Her motto is to educate the public especially in rural areas with the goal of teaching "One Village at a time".

 

She is involved in community care by participating in the local charity events helping with various NGOs. She has committed herself to the people in her professional career as well as in non-professional capacity.

 

Since 2012, she is keen on creating awareness on the importance of exercise. She was involved in organizing a cyclothon in Kuching with Sarawak Hospice Society to create awareness on the needs for terminally ill cancer patients. She participates in local athletic activities like yoga, cycling, Zhumba and badmintin to promote the importance of exercise at any age.