Dr Suma Krishnasastry (GAELF announced as a Distinguished International Fellow at the (virtual) 15th ASTMH by the President, Dr Joel Breman

18 Jan 2021

Professor Suma Krishnasastry (Suma T K) receives an international award from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) for three decades of work in lymphatic filariasis

Dr Suma Krishnasastry, Professor of Medicine and Director of Filariasis Research Unit at Government Medical College, Alappuzha, India is awarded the Distinguished International Fellow of American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (ASTMH) 2020 for her three decades of committed work in lymphatic filariasis. Professor Suma is the first Keralite to receive this prestigious award from ASTMH. This award is a special recognition of the eminent contribution she has made in achieving elimination of lymphatic filariasis and optimizing care of patients in India as well as in other endemic countries.

The award was presented by the President of ASTMH, Dr Joel Breman, during the annual meeting of ASTMH held virtually on 15-19 November.

Dr Joel Breman informed the meeting “Professor Suma Krishnasastry has been a mainstay of WHO’s special program of research and development in tropical disease with a focus on ways to optimize patient care and management. Her unit is now designated as a WHO Collaborating Center for lymphatic filariasis morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP). As such her unit plays a central role in creating policies, developing and implementing training for health care workers of various countries in the optimal care of patients with lymphoedema and related pathologies. Congratulations Professor Suma Krishnasastry”.


Professor Suma has worked in the Department of Medicine, Alappuzha Medical College since 1988 and in the Filariasis Research Unit started by Government in 1989 under the leadership of the late Professor R.K. Shenoy. The Filariasis Research Unit is proud that following sustained research and work it has been instrumental in developing several policies resulting in WHO designating the Unit as a WHO Collaborating Centre for filariasis patient related activities.

With committed and dedicated work over three decades the Unit has headed the development of various simple techniques to alleviate the suffering of patients with lymphoedema. With the help of WHO, training is conducted for doctors, nurses and program managers of many countries in these techniques. Health care providers from countries of South East Asia region (including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand). Eastern Mediterranean regions (Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen) visited Alappuzha for training in these techniques. In addition, countries in the African region (including Tanzania, The Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia) and the Western Pacific region (including Philippines, French Polynesia) have also been trained.

Kerala, doctors and nurses from the primary health care system of all 14 districts have been trained as part of SDG program. The trained health care providers have started filariasis clinics in their own hospitals to provide care for the LF patients thereby integrating MMDP into the primary health care system.