2002 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Given to Loune Viaud, Director of Operations for Partners in Health Clinic in Haiti
Loune Viaud, director of strategic planning and operations at Parners in Health's Zanmi Lasante clinic in Cange, Haiti, today will be awarded the 2002 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for her work providing treatment to HIV-positive Haitians. The award, which is presented by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, honors individuals who are "engaged in strategic and nonviolent efforts to overcome serious human rights violations." According to an RFK Memorial press release, Viaud was awarded the prize because she "strongly advocates, and demonstrates through her work, that access to health care is a fundamental human right." The Zanmi Lasante clinic offers free health care to "hundreds of thousands" of people living in the region, which is rural and "underdeveloped." Viaud in 2001 helped 60 HIV-positive patients draft a patients' "bill of rights" which asserted that health care is "a basic human right, not charity." Lynn Walker Huntley, executive vice president of the Southern Education Foundation and one of the judges who selected Viaud to receive the award, said, "Viaud's effort to combat HIV/AIDS represents human rights leadership at its most important level. The right to live is the baseline. The lack of support for basic health care provision and other services to meet the ravages caused by the HIV/AIDS crisis is the cruelest violation possible of this fundamental right" (RFK Memorial release, 11/13).
NPR's "Morning Edition" yesterday included an interview with Viaud (Chadwick, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/19). The full segment is available in RealPlayer Audio online.
Court TV tonight will air a special documentary titled, "Robert F. Kennedy: In Pursuit of Justice," which will explore the ongoing work of the RFK Memorial and the RFK Center for Human Rights and profile past and current award recipients, including Viaud. Martin Sheen, star of NBC's "The West Wing," will host the documentary. The documentary will air at 8 p.m. ET/PT (Court TV release, 11/13).