Kumariah Balasubramaniam

The late Kumariah Balasubramaniam (12-09-1926 - 18-04-2011) studied medicine at the University of Ceylon and obtained his PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Manchester. He taught pharmacology in University Medical School in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. In 1978, he joined the Technology Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as a Senior Pharmaceutical Adviser. In 1983, he relocated to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in Guyana to develop Caribbean regional pharmaceuticals policy. He has been a consultant to the WHO and was a member of the Editorial Committee of PLoS Medicine, the International Advisory Board of Southern Med. Review and of the Steering Committee of the People's Health Movement.

Dr. Kumaraiah Balasubramaniam, known simply as Bala, has been at the table from the beginning of what is now the HAI global network and stayed involved until his death in April 2011. In 1987 he became the Adviser and Coordinator of Health Action International Asia – Pacific (HAI AP) in Malaysia and only retired from this position in December 2010, aged 86, after which he retained the role of regional advisor. He worked with network partners of HAI AP to build a just society with equitable access to essential medicines for all who need them, irrespective of their ability to pay, at the centre of his work.

Whoever met Bala, campaigners and adversaries alike, cannot but fail to have been moved by his extraordinary adherence to values such as duty, service and sacrifice, and never was there a moment that Bala did not have time to hear you out, offer advice or point you in the right direction. But this observation of overwhelming kindness does not obscure Bala’s obstinate adherence to the principles that led him to a lifelong commitment to the health rights of the poor and marginalised, wherever they might be.