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Facts About India’s First Female Doctor: Rukhmabai Raut

Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

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Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rukhmabai was involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888
  • Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864
  • Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji

Rukhmabai Raut was one of the bold and progressive women of that time. The other notable first Indian females to practice medicine are Anandibai Joshi, Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu.

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician who is best known for being one of the first Indian women doctors in colonial India as well as being involved in a landmark legal case involving her marriage as a child bride between 1884 and 1888. It was a real big deal back then in India at that time.

Also Read: Rene Laennec: The Man Who Invented Stethoscope

 

Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons
Rukhmabai was the first Indian physician. Wikimedia Commons

The case raised quite a significant public debate across Indian society, which mostly included law vs tradition, social reform vs conservatism and feminism in both British-ruled India and England. The uproar ultimately contributed to the Age of Consent Act in 1891.

Rukhmabai was born on November 22, 1864, in a Marathi family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai. Her mother suffered because of the custom of child marriage. Rukhmabai was known for her staunch stand against divorce and her love for higher studies in medicine.

Before becoming one of the pioneers of women emancipation, Rukhmabaihad a life full of struggle

Top 5 Unknown Facts about Rukhmabai Raut?

  1. Rukhmabai was married at the age of 11 to a 19-year-old boy Dadaji Bhikaji. She was just 8 years old when her father. Rukhmabai chose to complete her education. It is said that the couple never lived together

2. Rukhmabai’s Mother Jayantibai transferred all her property to her. Later, Jayantibai remarried and Rukhmabai step-father supported her at every step.

3. Rukhmabai refused to live with her husband and maternal-in-laws because they were after her property that she inherited from his deceased father. She even fought a long legal case against her husband and in the end, Dadaji Bhikaji won the case. The judgment was criticised by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and other prominent Hindu leaders. The court criticized her stance on marriage and her aversion to reuniting with her husband.

4. In 1884, Rukhmabai’s husband filed a petition in the Bombay High Court and pleaded to restore conjugal rights of the husband over his wife. The court in its judgement told Rukhmabai to comply or to go to prison. Rukhmabai refused the judgment and stated that she would suffer imprisonment rather than entering into a marriage she did not want.

5. The case again came to court in 1887. This time, Rukhmabai wrote numerous pieces of letters under a pseudo name,“A Hindu Lady”, stating the condition of women, who became victims of child marriage. Her articles got her the support and public sentiments in her favour.

Also Read: Acharya Charaka: Indian father Of Medicine, Author of Charaka Samhita “science of Ayurveda”

6. Rukhmabai did not take the lying down and pleaded Queen Victoria. But still, she had to shell out  Rs 2000 to her husband as a settlement.

Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons
Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck. Wikimedkia Commons

7. A public fund was raised to support her travel and study in England at the London School of Medicine for the 5 years degree course.

8. After her successful completion of medicine course, Rukhmabai returned to India as a qualified physician in 1894 and joined a hospital in Surat as the First practising female doctor in India. There she served as the chief medical officer for 35 long years and retired around 1930. She breathed her last in 1955, at the age of 91.

9. Rukhmabai worked to a great extent for the upliftment and betterment of women. She even published a pamphlet and called it “Purdah-the need for its abolition.”

10. Last year, even Google India paid a rich tribute to Dr Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating its doodle depicting a lady with a stethoscope around her neck, surrounded by women patients and nurses in a hospital.

Next Story

Most Expensive Medicine Treats Rare Inherited Disease for $2M

The medicine, sold by the Swiss drugmaker Novartis, is a gene therapy that treats an inherited condition called spinal muscular atrophy

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expensive medicine
FILE - The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. VOA

U.S. regulators have approved the most expensive medicine ever, for a rare disorder that destroys a baby’s muscle control and kills nearly all of those with the most common type of the disease within a couple of years.

The treatment is priced at $2.125 million. Out-of-pocket costs for patients will vary based on insurance coverage. The medicine, sold by the Swiss drugmaker Novartis, is a gene therapy that treats an inherited condition called spinal muscular atrophy. The treatment targets a defective gene that weakens a child’s muscles so dramatically that they become unable to move, and eventually unable to swallow or breathe. It strikes about 400 babies born in the U.S. each year.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the treatment, called Zolgensma, for all children under age 2 who are confirmed by a genetic test to have any of the three types of the disease. The therapy is a one-time infusion that takes about an hour.

Novartis said it will let insurers make payments over five years, at $425,000 per year, and will give partial rebates if the treatment doesn’t work.

The one other medicine for the disease approved in the U.S. is a drug called Spinraza. Instead of a one-time treatment, it must be given every four months. Biogen, Spinraza’s maker, charges a list price of $750,000 for the first year and then $350,000 per year after that.

expensive medicine
FILE – This Oct. 14, 2015, photo shows the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. VOA

‘Dramatically transforms’ lives

The independent nonprofit group Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which rates the value of expensive new medicines, calculated that the price of the new gene therapy is justifiable at a cost of $1.2 million to $2.1 million because it “dramatically transforms the lives of families affected by this devastating disease.”

ICER’s president, Dr. Steven D. Pearson, called the treatment’s price “a positive outcome for patients and the entire health system.” The defective gene that causes spinal muscular atrophy prevents the body from making enough of a protein that allows nerves that control movement to work normally. The nerves die off without the protein.

In the most common type, which is also the most severe, at least 90% of patients die by age 2, and any still alive need a ventilator to breathe. Children with less-severe types become disabled more slowly and can live for up to a couple decades.

Zolgensma works by supplying a healthy copy of the faulty gene, which allows nerve cells to then start producing the needed protein. That halts deterioration of the nerve cells and allows the baby to develop more normally.

In patient testing, babies with the most severe form of the disease who got Zolgensma within 6 months of birth had limited muscle problems. Those who got the treatment earliest did best. Babies given Zolgensma after six months stopped losing muscle control, but the medicine can’t reverse damage already done.

expensive medicine
The medicine, sold by the Swiss drugmaker Novartis, is a gene therapy that treats an inherited condition called spinal muscular atrophy. Pixabay

Success story

Evelyn Villarreal was one of the first children treated, at eight weeks. Her family, from Centreville, Va., had lost their first child to spinal muscular atrophy at 15 months. Two years later when Evelyn was born a test showed she also had the disease, so the family enrolled her in the gene therapy study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Evelyn is now 4½ years old and showing no muscle problems other than minor trouble standing up, said her mother, Elena Villarreal. She has been feeding herself for a long time, she draws and speaks well, and will be starting kindergarten in the fall. “She’s very active and goes to the playground a lot,” said Elena Villarreal. “She’s walking and even jumping.”

ALSO READ: WHO Chief Emphasizes the Importance of Universal Health Coverage

It is too early to know how long the benefit of the treatment lasts, but doctors’ hopes are rising that they could last a lifetime, according to Dr. Jerry Mendell, a neurologist at Nationwide Children’s. Mendell led one of the early patient studies and is Evelyn’s doctor. “It’s beginning to look that way,” he said, because a few children treated who are now 4 or 5 still have no symptoms.

Early diagnosis is crucial, so Novartis has been working with states to get genetic testing for newborns required at birth. It expects most states will have that requirement by next year. The FDA said side effects included vomiting and potential liver damage, so patients must be monitored for the first few months after treatment. (VOA)