“I have been conducting surgery on acid victims free of cost”
The Gusi Peace Prize is a charitable foundation, an institution based in Manila, Philippines, registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission, whose main objective is to give proper recognition through the conferment of awards of excellence and distinction to individuals or groups worldwide who have distinguished themselves as brilliant exemplars of society or who contributed toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity.
The Gusi Peace Prize traces its roots through the efforts of Capt. Gemeniano Javier Gusi, a World War II guerilla who fought against Japanese oppression, turned politician, and became popular for his fight for human rights. He was being supported in his endeavor by his loving wife, Madame Teodora Sotejo Gusi, who performed various charity works, helping mothers and abused children and wives, the sick and the unemployed, the poor, deprived and humiliated individuals in society throughout the Philippines. A few years before Madame Teodora Sotejo Gusi expired, she knew that their son, the Honorable Barry Gusi, a renowned internationalist, would be the right one to take over what her husband had started, thereby creating the Gusi Peace Prize Foundation.
This foundation aims to give honor and awards to distinguished individuals or groups worldwide with exemplary contributions to peace and human rights, in scientific discoveries, politics, academe, performing arts, literature, medicine or psychology, journalism, humanities, physics, chemistry, religion, business and philanthropy, economics, internationalism and others. The mission of the Gusi Peace Prize is to champion human rights and maintain governance, democracy, equality, international peace and goodwill. This year, this award was given to among others, Dr. Ashok Gupta, renowned plastic surgeon. In his career spanning forty years, Dr. Ashok Gupta has operated on more than 400 victims of acid attack. An acid-attack victim requires at least 10 surgical procedures at different stages of treatment which normally costs Rs 10 to Rs 13 lakh or even more. But for last forty years he has been treating acid victims, absolutely free of cost at Bombay Hospital and GT Hospital. Through the hospital and his NGO, he raises funds so that patients don’t have to pay anything. Uday India salutes this doctor who has been instrumental in changing many lives.. Uday India talked to him on his achievement. Excerpts:
Q: Among how many participants were you chosen for this award?
For this award, there is an international committee, which also has its board of directors, which shortlist people from different strata of society. Every year they award 12-15 people and this time they awarded 12 persons. This is on a global basis. Senator Jones of America is among the member of Jury. This jury decides the criteria like work done for the betterment of the society, to be chosen as the recipient of the award. Gusi family is very well known in Philippines and Ambassador Gusi is the one who is conducting this award for the last 17 years. My name was recommended by the jury for my work which I have been doing for last 40 years. I have been going around central India in tribal areas and conduct plastic surgery on the poor and underprivileged people.
Q: Can you please elaborate your area of expertise.
I am involved in National Disaster management. Whether there is earthquake in Bhuj or terrorist attack on Akshardham, Kargil war, I am always there. Recently a massive earthquake rattled Nepal, I was there the next day with my team. For last forty years I have been treating acid victims, absolutely free of cost at Bombay Hospital and GT Hospital. Through the hospital and my NGO, I raise funds so that patients don’t have to pay anything. Till now, I have treated around 400 patients.
Q : Do you think that this government is doing enough for the health sector?
No, this government is not doing enough for the health sector. The government needs to pay attention to three aspects. One is basic healthcare, second is building infrastructure for specialized health care and building nation through giving good medical education. But, the government’s priorities on all the three levels are different. Hence, the government needs to improve the existing infrastructure so that we can deliver the good thing.
(Uday India Bureau)