20 Oct International health award for INF’s leprosy work
INF Nepal has been awarded a prestigious international health award for its work on leprosy.
The Else Kröner Fresenius Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine has been awarded to INF Nepal’s Dorothy Das and Tham Bahadur Gurung for the project ‘70 Years of Leprosy Relief – Toward Zero Leprosy’. The award ceremony was held on 17th October 2023 at the Wintergarten Varieté Theatre in Berlin, Germany.
Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) is a non-profit foundation dedicated to funding and advancing medical research and supporting humanitarian projects.
EKFS presents this award once a year in recognition of exceptional achievements in development cooperation. The award is endowed with 100,000 Euros — money utilised directly for the projects.
Dr Judith von Heusinger, In-Charge of Humanitarian Funding at EKFS, explains the reason behind the choice of the award recipient: “With this year’s award, we are honouring a project that demonstrates in particular how due to early detection of the infection along with the diagnosis, treatment or social support thereof the lives and health of those afflicted are consequently improved on a sustainable basis.”
Terra Tech, a German relief organisation, nominated INF for the award. Dr. Gangolf Seitz, Executive Chairman of Terra Tech, said: “We are pleased that INF Nepal, a partner being honoured with the award, is the one with whom we have been implementing successful projects in medical care and disaster prevention for over a decade.”
Upon receiving the award, Krishna Adhikari, Executive Director of INF Nepal, expressed his gratitude: “We are honoured to receive this award from the EKFS foundation in recognition of our unwavering efforts in fighting leprosy and providing care to the afflicted. This award has encouraged us and will significantly enhance INF’s efforts in leprosy prevention and treatment.”
Dr Arun Kumar Budha, INF Nepal’s Medical Services Director, stated that this recognition will enhance INF’s ability to prevent leprosy, identify contacts, and perform preventive examinations for the families of newly diagnosed leprosy patients. He highlighted its potential to facilitate timely prevention, increase self-care awareness among patients, prevent disabilities, and raise awareness about leprosy in society.
Among more than 35 organisations worldwide, INF Nepal was honoured for its 70 years of contribution to health, particularly in treating and rehabilitating leprosy-affected individuals.
The award ceremony was graced by distinguished guests, including Dr Barbel Kofer, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, His Excellency Ram Kaji Khadka, Nepal’s Ambassador to Germany, and renowned Nepali Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Professor Dr Bhagwan Koirala, and many other dignitaries.
Leprosy is one of the neglected tropical diseases. According to data from the WHO, it still occurs in more than 120 countries. Each year, over 210,000 patients come down with the disease worldwide. Although leprosy has been curable for many years, the afflicted continue to be shunned by society. When suspicion of a leprosy infection arises, the fear of exclusion causes many to be reluctant to seek medical help. If they are diagnosed and treated too late, however, the consequences can be visible and irreversible damage, for instance, to hands and feet and severely impaired eyesight.
70 years of leprosy relief
INF Nepal has devoted its efforts to the poorest and most marginalised segments of the population in Nepal since 1952. The focus thereby is placed on improving living conditions, adapting to climate change and strengthening resilience against natural catastrophes, as well as on advancing human rights and improving medical care for the people in western Nepal. The holistic, all-embracing treatment of people with leprosy is the core area of expertise at INF Nepal.
INF Nepal has been helping to diagnose and treat leprosy in western Nepal through its three hospitals in three provinces. In 1957, it founded the Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara. The hospital has such a good reputation that patients even come from India.
Today, INF Nepal carries out more than 30,000 outpatient treatments on people with leprosy and annually admits over 450 patients with leprosy as an inpatient. Reconstructive surgeries are performed at the INF’s Green Pastures Hospital, external professionals receive routine and advanced training, and the organisation has instituted an extensive leprosy prevention and rehabilitation programme.
Top image: Dorothy Das and Tham Bahadur Gurung receive the award in Berlin (© Felix Zahn/photothek.net)