Intended for healthcare professionals


Israeli medical humanitarian group is to share alternative Nobel prize

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 04 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5497
  1. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
  1. 1 Jerusalem

The Tel Aviv based Physicians for Human Rights-Israel will share the “alternative Nobel prize” for its work, which includes helping Palestinians, migrant workers, and refugees. The prize, the Right Livelihood Award, was established in 1980 to “honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges” and will be awarded in the Swedish parliament in Stockholm on 6 December, four days before the official Nobel prize ceremony.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, founded in 1988 by the Israeli physician Ruhama Marton, has Jewish and Arab Israeli members, who pledge to prevent serious abuses of human rights. It runs a free medical clinic in Tel Aviv for foreigners, including migrant workers and refugees from Africa who have no health insurance, and helps Palestinians, especially those from Gaza, to overcome Israeli bureaucracy that delays their access to urgent medical treatment in Israel. Dr Marton said that the prize gives “recognition and international and human solidarity, strengthening us in our struggle against sources of oppression and for justice and equality.”

The organisation’s director general, Hadas Ziv, said it was proud to receive the prize and thanked all its activists, partners, and supporters who made its work possible over the years. The non-profit group is committed to continue its activities to help everyone in Israel and the Palestinian territories to live with dignity, health, and equality.

So far 141 laureates from 59 countries have received the award, which has no categories and is usually shared by four recipients. Not all laureates receive a cash award, as often a special prize is given to a person or group whose work the jury wants to recognise but that is not in need of financial support. The prize money, €200 000 (£175 000; $275 000) this year, is intended to promote ongoing successful work.

Jakob von Uexkull, founder and co-chairman of the Right Livelihood Award, said that the prize “is widely recognised as the world’s premier award for personal courage and social transformation. Besides the financial support, it enables its recipients to reach out to an international audience that otherwise might not have heard of them. Often the award also gives crucial protection against repression. For the laureates, the award has opened many doors, including prison doors.”

The jury praised Physicians for Human Rights-Israel for its “indomitable spirit” in pursuing its aims. “Although they are physicians, they also see themselves as a political organisation. They participate in the debate about health policies in Israel,” Mr von Uexkull said.

The other laureates this year are Nnimmo Bassey of Nigeria, for his exposé of the ecological and human costs of oil production in the Niger delta; Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Brazil, for his fight for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples; and Shrikrishna Upadhyay of Nepal, for empowering the country’s poor people.


Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5497

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