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A pioneer in child care



P. Tirumala

The 88th birth anniversary of the eminent paediatrician, poet and public worker, P. Tirumala Rao, falls on September 20. A Gandhian and freedom-fighter, he was arrested during the Quit India Movement in 1942.

As the first Professor of Paediatrics in Andhra Medical College and Head of the Department, Dr. Rao was instrumental in the development of the 120-bed Institute of Paediatrics in the King George Hospital. He started the first DCH course in paediatrics in South India with the help of the World Health Organisation. He drafted the services of the WHO neonatologist, Eric Malm, in starting a premature nursery. Nurses were given special training in handling children.

Dr. Tirumala Rao introduced the `well baby' concept and launched immunisation programmes. Considerable work was done in developing growth charts for Indian children to evaluate their growth and development, under the ICMR research programmes.

Taking the help of Vizag's well-known doctor, Dr. Bendapudi Perraju, a personal physician of Rani Chandramani Devi, Dr. Rao, persuaded the Rani Saheba to start a children's hospital. By a will dated July 20, 1957, the Rani Saheba launched the Rani Chandramani Devi Children's Hospital, popularly known as RCD Hospital.

An alumnus of the Stanley Medical College, Madras, Tirumala Rao worked for some time in the Madras General Hospital. He went to the US for higher studies in 1951 and obtained the MS degree in paediatrics from the Iowa University Hospital. He specialised in juvenile diabetes and insulin requirement.

At the request of the Congress Government and the then Director of Medical Studies, K.N. Rao, Tirumala Rao chose to work in Andhra and that enabled to revive his interest in Telugu poetry. He received the titles `Bala Bandhu' and `Kala Saraswathi' for his books and articles in Telugu. He was awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Paediatrics in 1970.

The President of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1988. He had also served as president of the Rotary Club of Visakhapatnam. He was indeed a pioneer in child care and development.

K. SANTI SWARUP

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