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Humanitarian doctor scoops Robert Burns Humanitarian Award

RBHA Winner 400x400

A consultant dermatologist specialising in leprosy has won the 2023 Robert Burns Humanitarian Award (RBHA).

Dr Renuka Ramakrishnan won the prestigious award during a special online ceremony which took place on 25 January 2023 to celebrate Burns Night.

The RBHA, supported by South Ayrshire Council's Destination South Ayrshire team, recognises courage, commitment, inspiration, and hands-on humanitarian efforts from people of any nationality, race, age, or gender.

Dr Renuka Ramakrishnan is a consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist who has specialised in the treatment of Hansen's Disease (leprosy) for the past 30 years.

Based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, she is fondly known as 'Doctor Amma' and has been recognised for her work in the treatment of leprosy on many occasions.

As well as a doctor, she acts as counsellor, mentor, motivational speaker, and educator. She also campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and crimes against women, children, and the transgender community.

Dr Ramakrishnan has already helped 10,000 leprosy patients receive free consultations and treatment and assisted a total of 250,000 patients through more than 1,500 free medical camps.

On receiving the award, Dr Ramakrishnan said: "I am humbled and honoured. I am so thankful to God, my family, my patients, and my colleagues across India for this recognition.

"To be recognised with an award that bears Robert Burns' name itself is a privilege for me and is very special indeed.

"Thank you to South Ayrshire Council and the judging panel who have chosen me for this wonderful award.

"I dedicate this award to my leprosy patients and I will always work towards their upliftment in the community."

Martin Dowey, Chair of the RBHA judging panel, and Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: "Congratulations to Dr Ramakrishnan for winning the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2023. Without her work thousands of people would have been left without diagnosis, treatment and support. She is an incredibly selfless humanitarian and thoroughly deserves this award. I would like to wish her and the other finalists and nominees the very best for the future."

Also recognised at the award ceremony were fellow finalists John Flanagan and Hansel Foundation.

John, from Oldham, has been living and working in the Philippines since 2010, helping the poor, infirm and homeless. Over the last 12 years, he has helped thousands of individuals and communities across the Philippines, including supporting people to find food, clothing, medical help, employment, homes, and toys.

Hansel Foundation was founded in the Ayrshire village of Symington in 1963 with the primary aim of breaking down barriers faced by people with additional support needs.

Robert Burns was born in Alloway in 1759 and died at the age of 37 but his poetry has had an impact across the world. It is estimated that 9.5 million people attend Burns Suppers every year and there are statues of Burns in New York, Sydney and Estonia.

His compassion and humanity are reflected in poems such as "To a Mouse" and "A Man's A Man for a' That". The award celebrates Robert Burns' legacy by showcasing the outstanding work of its recipients. 

For more information about the RBHA visit



The RBHA is annual online event which takes place in January. It is supported by South Ayrshire Council and The National Trust. Applications for 2024 RBHA will start in Autumn 2023.

Dr. (Mrs.) Renuka Ramakrishnan | M.B.B.S., DL., FRSH (London) | Social Reformer (

Find out more about Robert Burns' Legacy in Ayrshire and things to do:

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum | National Trust for Scotland (

Assisting people with additional support needs - Hansel