Fisch, Rudolf

Basel Mission

Rudolf Fisch was a pioneer Swiss missionary doctor in Ghana. Fisch was born in the Swiss canton of Aargau, was trained as a doctor by the Basel Mission (BM). and served in southern Ghana, based at Aburi, from 1885 to 1911. As the first BM missionary in Ghana with scientific training, he pioneered the application of new discoveries (like the nature of malaria and the available forms of prophylaxis and prevention) to the actual living situation of Europeans and Africans there. He was a frequent contributor to the Archiv für Schiffs- und Tropenhygiene and published a widely read guide to health in the tropics (Tropische Krankheiten, 1891; 4th ed., 1912). As a scientific pioneer, however, he faced skepticism on the part of many missionary colleagues who had experienced the benefits of traditional African knowledge of medicinal herbs or who were more interested in homeopathy. He also founded the Blue Cross, a temperance movement in Ghana. For several decades after his return to Switzerland, he was a father in the faith to pietist and mission groups in his home region. Occasionally, it seems, he also helped out a local district nurse with inoculation programs. However, lacking full academic qualifications as a medical doctor, he was not able to practice medicine in his homeland.

Paul Jenkins


Friedrich Hermann Fischer, Der Missionsarzt Rudolf Fisch und die Anfänger medizinischer Arbeit der Basler Mission an der Goldküste (Ghana) (1991).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.