submitted by George Poulos on 25.05.2004
8th February 2000
The Australian Greek community has honoured Dr. Archie Kalokerinos, MBBS, FACNEM, by naming him Greek Australian of the century.
This is a singular recognition of the wonderful work done by Dr. Kalokerinos in his many years as a GP, ministering to small and remote communities in NSW and the Northern Territory.
Dr. Kalokerinos was a pioneer in the recognition of vitamin C deficiency as a major cause of morbidity and death, especially among the Aboriginal children. His book Every Second Child (see booklist) was lauded by some and criticised by many - the latter totally failing or unwilling to understand the importance of what Dr. Kalokerinos was trying to make the world aware of.
It is a tribute to his persistence and dedication that he persevered in the face of vicious attacks against him by colleagues and the medical establishment. Like so many pioneers, he saw what everyone saw but no-one else was willing to acknowledge. There were times when Dr. Kalokerinos had to physically fight other medical professionals in order to save the life of a child.
More recently, Dr. Kalokerinos has been sought after to give evidence in the Courts as a witness for the defence of people charged with the death of babies through physical abuse. His evidence has been accepted by the Courts that these children could also have died from scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency - the symptoms include bruising and internal bleeding. He does not say that people aren't abusing children in their care; however, the possibility exists that in many cases the accused are innocent and the child died of vitamin C deficiency.
From the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine(ACNEM) website, reproduced with permission, for which we are very grateful.
We thank in particular, Daan Spijer
submitted by Helen Tzortzopoulos on 03.10.2005
Sometimes recognition comes late in life - sometimes it never comes at all particularly for those who never work towards recognition anyway. How true this is in this case - and how proud and pleased all the Kytherian community of Australia must have been when Dr. Archie Kalokerinos of N.S.W. was proclaimed Greek Australian of the century by the newspaper NEOS KOSMOS!
Almost a decade ago we featured Archie Kalokerinos in our column "Kytherians in Focus". He told us of his Kytherian background - his father was Nicholas Kalokerinos from Alexandrades who migrated to Kythera before the First World War and married his mother Maria Megaloconomos (from Potamos) in Australia. Archie Kalokerinos was one of four brothers and a sister. His father's ambition was to see his children become doctors which dream was almost fulfilled, as all four sons did so and the daughter became a school teacher. Following several years' work experience in England, he returned to Australia and went to the remote town of Collarenabri to work for a few months and because the aboriginal reservation was close by, he became involved with their health problems and particularly concerned himself with the very high death rate amongst babies and adults which he tried desperately to overcome. However, rather disillusioned, he eventually gave up medicine and went to Central Australia and spent three years in Cooper Pedy opal mining for a living with two fellow Kytherians. During this time, he became an authority on opals and published two books on the subject.
Further disillusionment and despondency drove him out into the desert and he found himself in an aboriginal camp being nursed back to health by the aboriginees. He had always regarded the aboriginal race as hopeless, dirty and drunken but this first hand experience made him realise that they were in fact a "beautiful people". Their concern about their infant mortality rate gave Kalokerinos the necessary impetus to return to medicine and in December 1967 he commenced his work and treatment with the aboriginees putting several ideas he had into practice. His results were astonishing, (he injected the infants with Vitamin C rather than giving tablets) and babies ceased to die under his care - even though his methods were never officially recognised at the time.
His interest in aboriginal welfare expanded to cover problems other than health, such as alcoholism and jail house suicides - all very controversial but always without any government support as at the time there was little sympathy for aboriginal causes. His work was also very costly, ususally spending more than he could earn. He became an authority on aboriginal affairs with various publications to his credit and his profound knowledge and understanding of the people soon captured the public's imagination.
A T.V. episode of "THIS IS YOUR LIFE" and a dramatised documentary of his work by the Australian Film Commission in 1975 epitomised his contribution to aboriginal welfare - even though attempts were apparently made by the Australian government at the time to censor the film.
Many years have passed since our meeting on Kythera with Archie Kalokerinis, his wife and two children for whom it was their first visit to Kythera. We understand that he continues practicing in the country as a G.P. - and what a remarkable achievement for a G.P. - whose research work which had such positive results was never officially recognised. This is probably one of the few times where an Australian Greek has been honoured for work pertaining to a non -Greek related activity. We are glad that the Australian-Greek community saw fit to honour Dr. Kalokerinos for his work which helped the survival of the aboriginal race, but we wonder if and when will the Australian authorities do so?
Edition number: 212
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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