Twenty Years of British Medical Service in Palestine

Article/book #: 141956
Title: Twenty Years of British Medical Service in Palestine
Published in: Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 116, issue 7
Date of issue: Saturday, 15 February 1941
People/entities mentioned in this item:


Col. G. W. Heron, director of medical services, spoke on the radio on twenty years' medical service of the British admin¬ istration in Palestine. Under the Turks, which means before 1917, there was no organized medical service in the country. Some medical officers in larger towns performed sanitary and medical work. Hospitals existed only in Jerusalem and Nablus. After the occupation in 1917 a public health section under the late Colonel Garner was established. In 1920 the military administration was replaced by a civil government. The depart¬ ment of health was created. Colonel Heron stated that prog¬ ress has not been confined to the activities of the government. Each community has had a share : the Mission hospitals, the Jews with the Hadassah and Kupath Cholim organization, the Arabs and Moslems with voluntary hospitals and free clinics. In 1920 there were twenty-three public hospitals. In 1940 there are thirty-nine. The Jewish community maintains today twelve, the government nine, the Arabs one purely Arab vol¬ untary hospital. The most modern and largest hospitals are the Government Hospital at Haifa and the Hadassah Univer¬ sity Hospital, built in 1939, on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem.

In 1918, before hostilities in Palestine ceased, the Ameri¬ can Zionist Medical Unit came to Palestine and formed the nucleus of the Jewish medical service of today. This service included the Hadassah organization with its hospitals, school and infant welfare services; the Kupath Cholim organization, with over a hundred thousand members, some municipal or community hospitals, the antituberculosis league, the organization for the crippled children and other welfare services. Colonel Heron told about the antimalarial work. "In the last war Lord Allenby had to reckon on 5 to 10 per cent of his fighting forces being noneffectives from this cause between April and October 1918. Today among the men under Gen¬ eral Neame that figure stands at a fraction of 1 per cent."

There are eighty-five babies' welfare centers, forty-eight supported by the Jewish community, thirty-four by the govern¬ ment and three by mixed Arab and European woman's com¬ mittees. The general infant death rate in Palestine has been reduced to less than half what it was in 1920. With the assistance of Sir John Strathearn and his collaborators a gov¬ ernment service has been established throughout the country with thirty-one eye clinics, of which twenty are first aid sta¬ tions in villages. This service includes a mobile unit with a specially fitted lorry, a trailer caravan for the nurses and tents; 32,000 patients have been treated till now in tents. Colonel Heron's report included the work on hookworm, tuber¬ culosis and quarantine control, the collaboration with labora¬ tories and sanitary surveyors of municipalities and ambulance service.

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