(1902-1969) was a Belgian doctor, specializing in tropical medicine. In 1929 he
went to the Belgian
that he would conquer leprosy.
At that time, a new
treatment had just been developed. This new technique enabled Hemerijckx to modify his working methods accordingly, and
to organise his own working rounds, caring for his patients. Leprosy patients
were not to be confined anymore. He built a leprosarium, where patients could
live with their families. From now on, they could take part in family life
during the whole of their treatment.
the Second World War he founded Dikungu, the second
village for people affected by leprosy in the Belgian Congo. He began to conduct
regular tours of the area dispensing medical care where needed so that people
affected by leprosy could remain with their families.
In 1954, while taking a respite in Belgium,
King Leopold III invited Hemerijckx to the palace.
The Belgian Leprosy Centre had just opened its doors in India
and they were looking for somebody specialised in leprosy. He packed his cases
and left at once.
With the cooperation of Dr Claire Vellut and
nurses Simone Liageois and Haiane
Berg, Hemerijckx set up a centre specialising in
leprosy in Polambakkam, India. The personnel travelled from village to village and pitched their
tents under the trees, caring for their patients on the spot, advising them on
treatment and disease prevention.
The "clinic under the trees" of Polambakkam became a pilot project. All over India,
other people took similar initiatives.
work inspired people in Belgium to donate money to help care for people affected by leprosy and led to
the creation of Damien Foundation Belgium in
At 63 years of age, Hemerijckx
returned to Belgium. He was thereupon appointed medical consultant with the Damien
Foundation and helped the Foundation to progress. After that, he returned to
the Congo and to India, where he took part in numerous congresses where he did not cease to
plead the cause of fighting leprosy more efficiently.
Hemerijckx acted as a consultant for
the World health Organization on many occasions. As the most respected leprosy
doctor of his time he conducted study visits and wrote official WHO reports.
Among those a series called Leprosy
problem in India, a series of reports of study visits to Tripura
(10-13 February 1961), Manipur (13-17 February 1961), Assam
(17 February - 31 March 1961), West Bengal (4-9 February 1961 and 4-17
March 1961), Gujerat (8-15 April 1961) and Nagpur (1-2 May 1961).
The Main-Belt asteroid 9615 (1993 BX13), discovered on
January 1993 by E.W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory, is named Hemerijckx to commemorate his work.
Belgium 13 September 1975
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last revised: 1 March 2010