Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India on 15 February 2014 presented the International Gandhi Award for the year 2013 to Dr. Vijaykumar Vinayak Dongre (VV Dongre) and Prof. Guocheng Zhang at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. They were awarded for making outstanding contributions in the field of leprosy to eradicate the disease through treatment, training and research.
International Gandhi Award
The International Gandhi Award was instituted by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation that was established in 1950 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s service and scientific approach towards leprosy. It recognizes the commendable contributions of individuals and institutions in ameliorating the quality of life of people afflicted with leprosy. Every alternate year, two awards are given to individuals/institutions for making outstanding contribution in the field of leprosy.
Leprosy is a dreaded and incurable disease and has been in existence over several centuries. It has resulted to inhuman treatment with the patients. In 2012-13, India recorded around 83,000 leprosy cases with a prevalence of 0.68 per 10000 people.
United Nations has passed a resolution on discrimination against people affected by leprosy and efforts are being made to repeal laws that prevent people affected by leprosy from participating in society.
Recently, the World Health Organization Expert Committee has set the challenge to reduce the rate of new patients with disability due to leprosy to one in a million by 2020. This challenge can be met only through a multi – dimensional and integrated approach.