A statue of Ignác Semmelweis was unveiled on the campus of the Medical University of Vienna. The ceremony was attended by János Áder, President of Hungary and his wife, Anita Herczegh, Ernst Woller, President of Wiener Landtags, Herwig Wetzlinger, Director of the Vienna General Hospital,  Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University, and Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna. The statue was donated by Semmelweis University to its Austrian partner on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ignác Semmelweis.

This artwork is one of the nearly 20 Semmelweis statues which are being established around the world in the framework of an international project initiated by the Semmelweis Memorial Committee.  In cooperation with Semmelweis University and with the support of various diplomatic bodies and partners, several cities have already erected statues for Ignác Semmelweis – including Tokyo, Geneva, Krakow and now Vienna. Péter Párkányi Raab, the sculptor of the statue donated to the Medical University of Vienna, said that he intended to honour the saviour of wives and mothers with his work.

Markus Müller, Rector of the Medical University of Vienna, thanked Semmelweis University for its generous gift and praised the life and work of Ignác Semmelweis. Ignác Semmelweis was one of the most important clinicians of his time and a great fighter for health innovations: healthcare has a lot to thank him for. If he were alive, he would certainly be a Nobel Prize winner. Unfortunately, his activities were only recognized after his death, the Rector said.

The clinical work, the strong character and the determination that characterizes Ignác Semmelweis is an example for all of us. Semmelweis is ranked among the top 10 clinicians in the world who has stood up for his truth and saved millions of lives by recognizing the link between hand hygiene and infant mortality. In Chicago, we can see his portrait among the most innovative medical health professionals in the world, together with statues of Louis Pasteur and Wilhelm Konrad Röntgen. It is a great pleasure that now the Medical University of Vienna also owns a statue of the saviour of mothers – as besides Budapest, Vienna is the most influential city in the life of Ignác Semmelweis – stressed Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University of Budapest.

The Rector also thanked the Medical University of Vienna for being a partner of Semmelweis University in continuous development, mentioning the collaboration between the Division of Thoracic Surgery of the University of Vienna, the Thoracic Surgery Department of the National Institute of Oncology and Semmelweis University as a good example that led to the successful launch of the Hungarian Lung Transplant Program. He emphasized that the performance of a university never depends solely on its own activities, but on the excellence of its partners and the quality of its international medical, training and scientific co-operations. He added that this year is the 250th anniversary of Semmelweis University, which serves as a milestone and encourages the institution to evaluate its past achievements and to set new goals and ambitious plans for the future. During the jubilee year the curriculum of the medical education will be renewed in a practice-oriented way, and the University’s history and its achievements will be presented in many national and international forums as part of a large-scale program series – the rector said. The name Semmelweis is a historic trademark that obliges the University to provide the highest quality education, scientific performance, and patient care. Semmelweis University is moving forward on its way with an innovative approach and strong determination trustworthily to Semmelweis’s name and spirit.

Zita Dékán
Photo Source Copyright: MedUni Wien – Zsolt Matern