A History Gem: Hadassah Educates British Army About Tropical Diseases

Monday, Dec 23 2019

Many decades ago during the British Mandate in Palestine, the Hadassah Medical Organization educated soldiers of the British Army about tropical diseases, reports historian Alex Grobman in the December 5 issue of the New Jersey publication Jewish Link.

Dr. Grobman, who holds an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from the Hebrew University, writes about historical and contemporary issues affecting the Jewish community. 

Hadassah physicians, he relates, taught courses on dysentery, malaria, typhoid, typhus, and other tropical diseases to military officers. In addition, Hadassah staff developed a procedure to hasten wound healing, which they shared with the medical personnel of the United Nations. British Army scientists and physicians used Hadassah’s laboratories to pursue their own research. British military hospitals also used Hadassah’s laboratories to examine blood samples and to test the vitamin content of food for their troops.

Dr. Grobman reports that the Polish government awarded the head of the Hadassah Bacteriology Department the Golden Cross of Merit for developing an anti-typhus vaccine used by Polish troops and refugees. Dysentery vaccines were prepared for Polish troops and refugees living in the Middle East and Russia.

In addition, Jewish physicians living in Palestine served in the British Army. In fact, 400 answered a Jewish Agency appeal to enlist! Of those, 200 were accepted and served in various British military units in Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, Transjordan, India, Italy, Greece, Iran, Austria, Palestine, Malta, Libya, and Tunisia.

Learn more about the Hadassah Medical Organization.

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