Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Nov 21, 2005
Google



Tamil Nadu
News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |

Tamil Nadu - Chennai Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Fischer is back, for one last time

R.K. Radhakrishnan

Anti-leprosy campaigner sees improvement in health indicators in areas around his centres



Gerhard Fischer

CHENNAI: Gerhard Fischer, anti-leprosy campaigner and former German Consul in Chennai, who helped to set up the Indian Institute of Technology, is here again, for one last time.

Mr. Fischer, 84, used to spend six months in India, visiting, evaluating and offering suggestions to seven leprosy rehabilitation and vocational training centres he supports in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. He has been doing it for the past 20 years.

Mr. Fischer cites the improvement in health indicators in the areas around his centres, his age, a nagging oedema in his right leg after an operation in New Delhi and family pressures as reasons for the decision.

Initially, many of the centres he supported reached out to polio victims. Since the number of polio cases had dwindled, he restructured some of the centres to accept additional responsibilities, cutting down on the polio component, says Mr. Fischer.

He is happy that the huge government-non-governmental organisation partnership has ensured that polio is almost eradicated. "Living conditions had improved by leaps and bounds over the very many years from what I saw here in the 1960s," says Mr.Fischer. "The improvement was not dramatic, but gradual. Whatever the pace is, the happy factor now is that the incidence of these diseases is very low now."

But continuing vigil against both leprosy and polio is essential. "With the vaccine, one could say that we have conquered polio. But that is not the case with leprosy. It's sad that despite the very many decades of effort, we are yet to see a breakthrough."

To maintain vigil against the diseases, he suggests that medical practitioners in the State-run primary health centres be taught to look out for symptoms and maintain a watch over immunisation routines.

Raising resources

Over the years, Mr. Fischer has adopted innovative methods to raise resources. One such exercise was in 2003, when he got school students to take part in a marathon. Braving a heat wave, all 510 students of the Ludwig-Thoma Gymnasium, a school in Prien, in Bavarian Germany, took part in the marathon to raise funds for constructing a building for a school and a clinic at Taramangalam in Salem district. For every km a student ran, his or her parents had promised to pay one euro.

But he says that funds are getting a little difficult to come by. "People had contributed a lot for the tsunami. When I go back to them, they say that. It's true that the tsunami was a big disaster. I too have contributed my bit for the reconstruction effort. But we have to find the resources for the other needs and projects."

"Not enough"

For now, the centres he supports make do with the interest accruing from the corpus he created with the money he got from the Gandhi Peace Prize. But the money is not enough, he says. He is looking for someone to whom he can hand over the task of being the point man in India.

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail



Tamil Nadu

News: Front Page | National | Tamil Nadu | Andhra Pradesh | Karnataka | Kerala | New Delhi | Other States | International | Opinion | Business | Sport | Miscellaneous | Engagements |
Advts:
Classifieds | Employment | Obituary | Updates: Breaking News |


News Update


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2005, The Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu