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Worldwide clamour for leper colony nurse heroes to be honoured with Nobel Peace Prize

Devoted nurses spent 40 years caring for leprosy patients on an island in South Korea

Devoted Austrian nurses spent 40 years caring for leprosy patients on an island in South Korea

Two nurses who cared for people living with leprosy have received worldwide support to be honoured in this years Nobel Peace Prize.

Austrian nurses Marianne Stoger and Margaritha Pissarek went to a leper colony on Sorokdo island in South Korea in the 1960s.

The two women, who were Catholic nuns, volunteered to go to the island as part of a five-year project at the colony and ended up spending 40 years there caring for people with leprosy , a chronic infectious disease also known as Hansen's disease.

They developed specialist treatment wards for patients requiring

Devoted Austrian nurses spent 40 years caring for leprosy patients on an island in South Korea

Picture shows Austrian nurses Marianne Stoger (left) and Margaritha Pissarek with a patient
Marianne Stoger (left) and Margaritha Pissarek with a patient

Two nurses who cared for people living with leprosy have received worldwide support to be honoured in this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Austrian nurses Marianne Stoger and Margaritha Pissarek went to a leper colony on Sorokdo island in South Korea in the 1960s.

The two women, who were Catholic nuns, volunteered to go to the island as part of a five-year project at the colony and ended up spending 40 years there caring for people with leprosy, a chronic infectious disease also known as Hansen's disease.

They developed specialist treatment wards for patients requiring treatment for tuberculosis, blindness and mental health issues.

Online petition supporting Nobel Prize campaign swells to 1.4 million signatures

Picture shows Marianne Stoger and Margaritha Pissarek early in their careers
The two nurses early in their career

The Korean Nurses Association has led calls to have the two nurses nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their selfless dedication to caring for patients. Former South Korean premier Kim Hwang-sik has also supported their nominations.

The Nursing Now campaign and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) have backed the call and an online petition supporting the campaign has gained almost 1.4 million signatures.

ICN president Annette Kennedy said: 'The whole ICN family is behind the nomination of the two Austrian nurses, Margaritha and Marianne, for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced on Friday, and we could not be prouder of them and the Korean Nurses Association and all those who have championed their cause.

Remarkable story deserves to be known and shared around the world

'They would be worthy winners, especially in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has put into even sharper focus the sacrifice and commitment of nurses around the world.

'Their selfless 40-year service of the community who suffered from Hansen’s disease on the Korean island of Sorokdo is a remarkable story and deserves to be known and shared around the world.'

The Nobel Committee does not announce the names of nominees and any information about proposals for the award is kept confidential for 50 years.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 will be announced on Friday 9 October at 11am.


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