This is for the first time that the prize has been awarded to an organization, rather than to an individual.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
WASHINGTON, DC, SEPETEMBER 8, 2012 -- The Fulbright Association presented its 2012 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international medical humanitarian organization. The formal award ceremony took place on September 8, 2012, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The award, a $50,000 prize, was received with a speech by Dr. Unni Karunakara, international president of MSF. A further highlight of the ceremony was the testimonial to the work of MSF by Francis Gatlauk, one of the first patients ever treated by MSF in South Sudan for the deadly neglected disease kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis). He subsequently joined MSF as a nurse to treat the disease that nearly took his own life and has now spent over two decades working with kala azar and tuberculosis (TB) patients in his home country.
In announcing the honor, Patricia Krebs, president of the Fulbright Association, said, “This is the first time the Prize has been given to an organization rather than to individuals,” Krebs said. “Doctors without Borders was a unanimous first choice of the International Selection Committee because of the shared goals of the two organizations in promoting global understanding and humanitarian principles.” MSF provides medical assistance to people affected by wars, epidemics, and man-made and natural disasters in nearly 70 countries.
The Prize was first awarded in 1993 to Nelson Mandela, who subsequently received the Nobel Peace Prize. Three other Prize laureates were also later named Nobel Prize recipients. MSF was the Nobel Prize recipient in 1999.
“The Fulbright Prize is recognition of the collective efforts of my 27,000 colleagues—some of whom were Fulbright scholars—working on the frontlines of wars and health catastrophes, not only to treat our patients, but to also promote understanding of the medical needs of the forgotten and often neglected,” said Dr. Karunakara. “It is fitting that this award is being given to our organization rather than an individual – because it reflects the spirit and passion of Doctors Without Borders.”
MSF will utilize the funds from the Fulbright Prize to support its efforts in pioneering a more patient-friendly treatment regimen for people with drug-resistant TB.