Lak Kumar

Ashoka Fellow
Sri Lanka,
Fellow Since 2012
Negombo Hospital

Citation

This profile was prepared when Lak Kumar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Dr. Kumar’s work is motivated by his belief that dengue fever is a predictable and treatable disease, and therefore conventional methods of treatment can and should be improved upon. His work has also helped to dispel public fear and common misconceptions surrounding dengue fever, and his new approach to treatment has shown that dengue fever infection does not have to result in patient death.

Dr. Kumar’s new approach to treating dengue fever is the result of a close analysis of dengue fever death in Sri Lanka. In 2009, Dr. Kumar studied all 64 child deaths due to dengue fever at Ragama Hospital, where he was posted as a pediatrician. His work went beyond merely studying patient records; Dr. Kumar visited the homes of each of the deceased in order to analyze the patient’s complete medical condition. During his analysis, he spent time in Thailand with a team of doctors who worked in regions with high incidences of dengue fever. With Thailand-based Professor Suchitra Nimmannitya, Kumar discussed his findings. Nimmannitya’s team believed that fluid management was the most important part of reducing dengue fever mortality. Dr. Kumar realized that successful treatment of dengue fever in Sri Lanka, and all over the world, was more about proper doctor training and less about a lack of medical resources. Upon returning to Sri Lanka, Dr. Kumar discovered that standards for fluid management in dengue patients were not uniform in Sri Lanka or globally, leading to many unnecessary and treatable deaths from the disease.

In addition to championing the standardization of fluid management therapy for dengue fever treatment, Dr. Kumar has also established a fully equipped Dengue High Dependency Unit (DHDU) in Sri Lanka that encompasses a national hotline, a 24-hour doctor information service, and a new round-the-clock blood monitor system. As a result, Ragama Hospital has had zero deaths due to dengue fever.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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