Career of Dr. P.K. Gopal
Dr Gopal completed his degree in economics whilst being treated for leprosy at a government leprosy hospital. Following his postgraduate studies in Medical Social Work in Chennai, Dr Gopal established the first rehabilitation department at Sacred Heart Hospital, Kumbakonam, and Tamil Nadu. This benefited around 3000 leprosy- and disability-affected people. Dr Gopal's research studies in rehabilitation were highly acclaimed by scholars and in 1994 he obtained a PhD in Social Science from Ranchi University.
It had been four decades Dr Gopal has championed efforts to help eradicate leprosy and to help further the cause of those who are affected by this disease. He completed his university studies and earned a degree in economics whilst he was in a government leprosy hospital for two years being treated for leprosy. It was at the end of this time that he decided to stay at the hospital and help with the social rehabilitation of patients affected by leprosy. He established the hospital's first social welfare and rehabilitation department. In 1993 Dr Gopal gained a PhD in rehabilitation from Ranchi University.
Contribution of Dr. P.K. Gopal
In the 1994 it was the initiative taken by Dr Gopal which had helped to establish IDEA (Integration, Dignity & Economic Advancement of people affected by leprosy), of which he is the able President. He is also Chairman of the National Forum of Persons Affected by Leprosy. In 1996 he became a member of the Medico-Social Commission of ILEP (The International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations), during which time he published a book called 'Guidelines for Socio-Economic Rehabilitation' which is still widely used by organisations around the world.
Dr Gopal has received numerous other awards for his services to leprosy-affected people, including TLM's Wellesley Bailey Award which recognises the accomplishments of people who have been affected by leprosy.
Dr Gopal is the International President of the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA), which he helped to set up in 1994. This international advocacy and human rights organisation is working hard to end the effects of isolation, stigma and discrimination people affected by leprosy experience, which played a key role in the development of the United Nation's Guidelines for the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy and Their Family Members.
Dr Gopal is the President of the National Forum of Persons Affected by Leprosy In September 2011 he was part of a delegation that met with the Honourable President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to urge the speedy implementation of recommendations outlined in the Action Taken Report tabled by the Petitions Committee in the House on 22nd November 2010, to empower persons affected by leprosy.
In communication with Mr Douglas Soutar, General Secretary of ILEP, Dr Gopal noted that he has been able to achieve what he has with the support of the ILEP Federation and by ILEP Members, particularly FAIRMED. Dr Gopal is quoted in The Hindu online on 26th January 2012 as saying "The government and NGOs should not dilute their leprosy eradication efforts as new leprosy cases are being reported every year."
The Padma Awards will be distributed by the President of India at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, their official residence, in March or April this year.
This is not the first time Dr Gopal's achievements have been recognised. He was awarded the Wellesley Bailey Award in 2001 and Foundation for the Encouragement of Social Contribution in 2004 by The Nippon Foundation.
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