Mumbai psychiatrist Dr Vatwani wins Magsaysay Award for work toward mentally ill destitute

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay's example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society

Mumbai psychiatrist Dr Vatwani wins Magsaysay Award for work toward mentally ill destitute

Dr Bharat Vatwani is being recognised for “his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India’s mentally-afflicted destitute, and his steadfast and magnanimous dedication to the work of restoring and affirming the human dignity of even the most ostracised,” the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said in its citation for the winner.

The Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation is Non-profit organisation established by Dr Bharat Vatwani, a Mumbai-based Psychiatrist, in 1989. Based in Karjat, Maharashtra, the foundation has helped lead the rescue of thousands of street persons with mental disabilities, to treat them and reunite them with their families.

In 1989, the psychiatrists Dr Bharat Vatwani and Smitha Vatwani decided to start a rehabilitation home for mentally ill destitutes wandering the streets.

As Dr Bharat quoted in a newspaper article, “I was so moved by the plight of this boy that I decided to take care of him. After treating the boy, I was shocked to learn of his identity. He was a BSc graduate with a diploma in medical laboratory technology and his father was a superintendent in Andhra Pradesh.”

This incident proved to be a galvanise Dr Bharat to start a rehabilitation home for mentally ill people who have been lost to their family.

Speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Bharat Vatwani, said, “The number of people affected with mental illnesses is increasing in society. People tend to look at mentally ill people differently and do not help them. This award encourages me to carry on with my work. I hope people get inspired and come forward to help the mentally ill.”

He added, “Since 2006, I have been running this organisation in Karjat. And in these last 14 years we have come across 5,500 destitute people. We take these street person in the rehabilitation home and treat them, we also search for their place of origin and help unite them with their family.”

The awards will be presented in Manila, the capital of Philippines, on August 31.