Not much has been written about the early beginnings of modern medicine in Iran. With this book, renowned scholar Willem Floor, who has written more than fifty books on Iran’s history and culture, corrects this lacuna. He details the development of the education of modern physicians starting in the 1850s. And highlights the important and influential role of American physicians in helping shape the culture of Iranian hospital care, including making it acceptable to Iranian patients.
American missionary hospitals played a crucial role through the founding of the first medical school in 1885 in Orumiyeh. There were also two other medical training programs at American hospitals in Hamadan and Tehran. By 1930, most Iranian physicians trained in Western medicine had been educated either at the American University of Beirut, medical schools attached to American missionary hospitals, or in Europe.
In 1915, American physicians also began the first school to train nurses. Later, in 1936, the government of Iran asked American missionary nurses to direct and run the five government schools for nurses. American and British physicians were the first to establish a rigorous ob-gyn program with pre-and post-natal care, including baby clinics to combat the high child mortality rate in Iran.
This model was later adopted by all Iranian hospitals. American physicians also introduced the X-ray machine, the hospital laboratory, and other techniques to enhance medical diagnosis and treatment. All these were established through an environment of cooperation, collegiality, and professional cooperation with their Iranian colleagues through seminars, and the creation of medical societies in Mashhad and Tehran.
The final chapter tells the history of leprosy in Iran, and the establishment and functioning of the first leprosarium in Mashhad by American missionary physicians in collaboration with the Imam Reza Shrine Foundation.
This book will reward those interested in the development of modern medicine in Iran and the role of women in its health care system.
Willem Floor attended the University of Utrecht where he studied economics, non-Western sociology, and Islamic studies. He also studied Arabic and eventually became interested in Persian. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Leiden in 1971.
The title of his Ph.D. dissertation was “The Guilds In Qajar Persia.” Ever since, he has been engaged in Iranian studies. Throughout this time, he has published extensively on the socio-economic history of Iran. As an independent scholar, Floor has published numerous works of history as well as translations. Dr. Floor is also a winner of Iranian Farabi International Prize for Humanitarian Studies.
Floor’s books on Iran could be categorized into energy-related publications, Persian Gulf, art, social history, economic history, political history, and medical history.
He also has numerous published papers (250 plus) in each categories in reputable journals including, but not limited to International Journal of Energy Research, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, The Middle East Journal, Journal of International Affairs, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Die Welt des Islams, Studia Iranica, Iranian Studies, and Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, as well as many entries in the Encyclopedia Iranica, Encyclopedia of Islam.