German consul-general Rainer Schmiedchen hands over a book to a home inmate. (Gopal Senapati)
German consul-general Rainer Schmiedchen spent an hour at St. Thomas Home on Howrah’s Belilious Road on Monday, enquiring after tuberculosis patients, offering support and distributing books to cheer them up.
An Englishman had set up the home for tuberculosis patients in 1976. The facility now receives support mostly from the Germans and rotary clubs of Calcutta, Germany and the Netherlands.
The home has 42 beds with an outpatients department that treats all types of tuberculosis. There are isolated cabins for those with contagious tuberculosis.
Members of the German Doctors’ Organisation have been visiting the home during vacations since 2004 and helping out with treatment.
“They pay half the cost of their flight tickets to come here and treat patients for three months. It’s almost like a movement,” said the consul-general.
At the helm is Tobias Vogt, whose association with the home goes back to 2000. He goes around rural Howrah in a medical van and brings critical patients to the home.
“This is one of the most important, effective and appreciated projects supported by us,” said the consul-general while handing over a book to the administrator of the home, Raghab Naik.
Delegations of German officials often drop in at the home. “The project has the backing of the German government, the Deutscher Bundestag (German Parliament) and the Christian Democratic Party,” said Schmiedchen.
Elizabeth Klauder officiates at the home when Vogt is not project.
Euros 5,000 to 7,000 are donated to the project annually. “The Germans have paid for the beds, a generator, lockers, a new building and a medical store,” said Naik.
Rotary Club of Calcutta along with Rotary Club of Viersen-Schwalm – Nette, Germany, and Rotary Club of Horst-sevenum – Maasdorpen, Netherlands, support a project on lifelong immunisation of children against diseases like polio, measles, Hepatitis B at St. Thomas Home.
Last year, 27,940 children were vaccinated. This year, the number is expected to be around 25,000.
“We need more funds for patients who need surgery. On an average, surgeries cost about Rs 70,000 each,” said Naik.