Swiss Human Rights Award 2019 to Prof. Dr. Ruedi Lüthy
Since 1994, the Swiss Section of the ISHR has been awarding its Human Rights Prize annually. The aim of this award is to honour people and actions that support and promote peace and human security. Among the previous award winners are the Dalai Lama, Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, Swiss Solidarity, Adolf Ogi, a group of “1000 Women for Peace”, Dick Marty, David Kilgour and David Matas, Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini and other public figures. The 2019 award winner is Prof. Dr. Ruedi Lüthy.
AIDS expert of the first hour
Ruedi Lüthy, a specialist in infectious diseases, has been dealing with AIDS since the 1980s. As head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the University Hospital of Zurich, he was unable to do more in the first few years than accompany people as they died. At the end of the 1980s, together with other specialists, he founded the death hospice Zürcher Lighthouse, which he headed for several years. Thanks to effective medication, HIV infection has become a treatable chronic disease in Switzerland since the mid-1990s.Unfortunately, Southern Africa is not yet ready. HIV is still omnipresent: 1.3 million people in Zimbabwe live with the virus, and every year more than 30,000 people die as a result of AIDS. Ruedi Lüthy felt it was his moral duty to help alleviate the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. Shortly before retirement, after a fulfilling professional life in Switzerland, Ruedi Lüthy collected donations, brought the necessary equipment to the country and finally founded an HIV clinic in the capital Harare in 2003.
“I have a dream!”
HIV has turned the lives of Simba’s family upside down. The 17-year-old has been HIV-positive since birth. His mother died of AIDS when he was six years old. His father, who was also HIVpositive, remarried – Simba got a healthy half-brother. His older sister also gave birth to an HIV negative boy thanks to the therapy. With the support of the Newlands Clinic, the patchwork family can once again stand on its own two feet. To feed the extended family, his father grows corn, sweet potatoes and beans. But the harvest is often insufficient because it rains far too much or almost not at all. That’s why the Newlands Clinic is providing the family with the knowledge they need to cultivate maize in a water-efficient way as part of the maize cultivation project.
Simba has been a patient at the Newlands Clinic is providing the family with the knowledge they need to cultivate maize in a water-efficient way as part of the maize cultivation project. Simba has been a patient at the Newlands Clinic for eleven years. Thanks to the regular intake of his medication, he is doing well today – and can pursue his dreams. His greatest dream is to become a doctor one day. Since his family is poor, the Ruedi Lüthy Foundation pays for the school fees, uniform and school materials. Because every child treated in the Newlands Clinic should be able to go to school. Simba is infinitely grateful for this and works hard to one day be able to actively help as a doctor.
With the founding and operation of the Newlands Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, this year’s award winner Prof. Dr. Ruedi Lüthy is fighting tirelessly against this terrible disease. Today, more than 6,500 HIV patients from the poorest backgrounds receive medical help at the clinic – for life.
With his great commitment and knowledge, Ruedi Lüthy makes a special contribution to human rights, because he gives hope to countless young people and their families and gives them back the right to a self-determined life. As founder of the Ruedi Lüthy Foundation and the Newlands Clinic, Ruedi Lüthy ensures that patients are in good hands and passes on his extensive knowledge to local doctors and nurses at the clinic’s own training centre.
We congratulate Prof. Dr. Ruedi Lüthy for this award and for the great work he is doing for humanity.