Petition aims to secure Nobel peace prize for two leprosy nurses

Austrian nurses devoted 40 years to caring for an ostracised community in South Korea

Austrian nurses devoted 40 years to caring for an ostracised community in South Korea

Margaritha Pissarek and Marianne Stöger with a patient

Nurses who travelled to South Korea to care for people sent to a leper colony deserve to win the Nobel peace prize, a former South Korean prime minister said.

The two Catholic nuns devoted 40 years to the care of people with leprosy on a remote island off the coast of South Korea.

Nurses showed no fear of patient contact

A petition was set up in a campaign to secure the Nobel prize for the women and is backed by the Korean Nurses Association and former premier Kim Hwang-sik.

Marianne Stöger and Margaritha Pissarek left their native Austria in the 1960s for Sorokdo island and are fondly remembered in South Korea for their work.

Marianne Stöger caring for a family

Patients were shocked that the nurses did not use gloves when in contact with them – something they had never experienced.

The nurses, early in their careers

Mr Kim told the International Council of Nurses congress last month that the pair embody the spirit of self-sacrifice many nurses have.

‘These two nurses lived humble lives,’ he said. ‘They left their home to care for people others stayed away from for fear of catching disease, but they looked after them with bare hands,’ he said.

Mr Kim also called for better working conditions for nurses and suggested they follow the example of Florence Nightingale and influence policymakers ‘without confrontation’.

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