• Brief Profile

    Ms. Harmala Gupta was born in New Delhi on July 23, 1953. She Studied at Loreto Convent School, ‘Tara Hall’, Simla. Passed out  in 1969.  She completed BA Honours in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University, 1973, MA in International Politics from School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, 1975 and M.Phil. in Chinese Studies from the School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi, 1976. Also did a Diploma in Chinese language at JNU. She was awarded teaching assistantship by McGill University, Montreal, Canada, to pursue a Ph.D. in Chinese Politics from the Dept of Political Science, 1977. Unable to submit thesis due to illness; diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system (Hodgkin’s Disease) in 1987.  Ms. Harmala Gupta Founded the first cancer support group in India, ‘Cancer Sahyog’, in 1991 as well as “CanSupport’, a not-for-profit organisation in 1996 which has pioneered palliative care at home for people with advanced and terminal cancer in North India. Starting with 6 patients in 1997, today, over 1000 patients and their families living in Delhi and the NCR (including NOIDA, Faridabad, Gurgaon & Ghaziabad) are receiving high quality medical, nursing and psychological care free of charge.


    Patients are referred from the Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital at AIIMS as well as from other cancer treating hospitals .The home care teams are composed of trained professionals: doctors, nurses and counselors who offer pain relief, nursing support and counseling to patients and family members. To date, more than 12,000 people have benefitted from this service. CanSupport volunteers also run a daycare programme for children and adults under treatment for cancer and facilitate peer support group meetings. Trained CanSupport staff man a confidential telephone helpline for cancer (11-26711212), from Monday to Friday, between 9.30am and 5.30pm. CanSupport also holds a number of training workshops and fundraising and awareness events. Of these, its annual Foundation Course in Palliative Care for medical professionals and its annual Walk for Life are well known and respected. The next Walk for Life will be held in Delhi on Sunday February 3, 2013 (for more information view www.cansupport.org).


    Besides being President of CanSupport, Harmala is also Founder-President of the       first national level umbrella organization of cancer support groups in India –  Cancer Care India. This organization was set up to advocate for the rights  of people with cancer and to raise awareness about cancer in the country. It has more than 30 cancer support groups affiliated to it and has held awareness camps all over the country in conjunction with the National Cadet Corps (NCC).


    Ms. Harmala Gupta is on the governing board of the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute in Delhi and is a fellow of the UICC (International Union Against Cancer) in Geneva. She has led workshops and delivered several talks at international and national conferences. She has been interviewed by the media and has written       extensively on cancer and issues related to survivorship in the Indian press. She has also received the following awards and recognition for her work: 


     In 1994, she was awarded a Times Fellowship by the Times of India Group for the study of  ‘Alternative Therapies and Cancer’.  In 1999, she was among the first awardees of the `Inner Flame Award' instituted by Full Circle Publications, a unit of Hind Publications. In 2000, she was honoured with the first ‘Distinguished Alumna Award’ by her  alma mater, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi.  In 2002, she was given a UICC International Fellowship to visit Singapore to study daycare and  home based palliative care.  In 2003, she was awarded a fellowship to participate in the prestigious Hospice & Palliative Care Study seminar in Britain. 



    She received a bursary to attend the Multi-Professional Course in Palliative Care at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, UK in 2003. She was given ‘Outstanding Woman Social Worker Award’ for the year 2005-06 by FLO, the ladies wing of FICCI (Federation of Indian Commerce & Industry). In December 2005, she received an award for “outstanding contribution to social service” instituted by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry,  from the President of India.

    In November 2008,  iCONGO (Indian Confederation of NGOs) conferred her with Karmaveer Puruskaar, a national award for social justice and action. In November 2009, she received ‘The Silver Phoenix Award’ from the Indian nstitute of Planning & Management, New Delhi. In September 2010, she received the 18th National Award for best social activist from the Journalist Association of India & the Journalist Federation of India.  In November 2010, she was one of the Kiran Lifetime Awardees of the National Women Excellence Award 2010 instituted by Women’s International Network.


    Special Mentions:

    Ms. Harmala Gupta was invited to present a paper titled, “CanSupport : Pioneering Home Based Palliative Care in a Resource Constrained Setting” at the 14th International Congress on Care of the Terminally Ill in October 2002 at Montreal, Canada . She was interviewed by Tim Sebastian on HARDtalk, BBC World, on 29th November 2002. She was a member of the Task Force to formulate strategies for the National Cancer Control Programme in the XI Five Year Plan, set up by the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, Govt. of India. She was invited to attend the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit, held in Dublin in August 2009, by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and participate in a panel on leadership. She was featured in an article published in the June 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest. She recently delivered the prestigious Hinohara Lecture at the Asia Pacific Hospice Network (APHN) Conference held at Penang, Malaysia in July 2011. 


    Other information:

    Ms. Harmala Gupta Harmala is the daughter of an Indian Army officer. She was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin's Disease (a cancer of the lymphatic system) in Toronto, Canada, while studying for her Ph.D. in 1986-87. She drew up the first ‘Declaration of Rights for People with Cancer in India’ (it was adapted from the declaration drawn up by Cancer Link, U.K.).  She is Founder-Member of the Governing Council of the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital and Research Institute, Delhi. She is married to a sociologist and has a son.



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