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100 years of the School of Medecine in Cairo: 1928

This stamp, issued in 1928, commemrates the Centenary of the School of Medecine in Cairo. The stamps also commemorated the International Congress of Tropical Diseases held in Cairo the same year.

The Cairo School of Medicine was established in 1828 during the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ottoman governor  and defacto ruler of Egypt from 1804 to 1849. This school was the first modern medical school to be established in Egypt and the Arab world. 

Establishment of the School of Medecine

Stamp with Mohammad Ali Pasha - YT 135
Stamp bearing the portrait of Muhammad Ali Pasha (1769 – 1849) – YT 135

Muhammad Ali Pasha (1769 – 1849) who placed great importance on science and education is considered as the founder of modern Egypt. In order to modernize the Egyptian state, he sent educational missions to Europe and especailly to France. He also hired scientists and scholars from Europe to work in Egypt in various domains.

To create the school of medecine, Muhammad Ali Pasha hired a famous French doctor Antoine Clot (Clot Bey) in 1827. The french doctor was commissioned to create the school and hire the academic staff. The school received its first students in 1828 and the first batch graduated in 1832.

Extension of the School

Shortly after the establishement of the school of medecine, the first School of Pharmacy was opened in 1830,  followed by a school for midwives in 1831.

Progressively, the school hired more than twenty doctors from Spain, Italy, Bavaria in addition to France. A group of 12 among the best graduates were sent to France to continue their studies. Progressively Egyptian doctors joined the academic staff.  

Stamps showing an ancient Egyptian doctor
Stamp showing an ancient Egyptian doctor – YT 134

The school was first buit in a military camp in the suburb of Cairo named “Abu Zaabal”. In the year 1837, the school was transferred to Qasr El-Eyni, an old palace built it in 1466 in the center of city.

Translation of Medical Texbooks

The Egyptian school of Medecine played an important role in translating moderm medical books from French to Arabic. 

At its establishement, the school used French textbooks. The school founder Clout Bey was of the opinion that education should be in Arabic.  He considered that education in a foreign language “does not get the desired benefit from it, nor does it result in the localization of knowledge or the generalization of its benefit.” 

Papyrus de medecine de l'Egypte ancienneun m`
Ancient Egyptian medicine papyrus

The school decided to translate the textbooks from French to Arabic but could not find a competent translator, Except for a Syrian man from the Anhouri family, who knew only Italian. So the school translated the French books for him into Italian first, then he translated them from Italian into his poor Arabic. A scholar from Al-Azhar, Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hawari, and team of collaborators were commissioned to correct and refine the translation. 

The number of books translated was fifty-two. Among these books, Clot Bey compiled the book “Expression in Anatomy”, printed in 1833, and the surgery book titled “Mablagh al-Barah fi ‘ilm al-jarrah” translated by al-Anhouri and printed in 1935, and “About pathological anatomy” translated by al-Nabarawi and other books of medicine, botany or pharmacology.

The School of Medicine and Kasr Al-Ainy Hospital were joined to the Egyptian University in the year 1925 AD.

Catalogue Reference: Yvert & Tellier 134-135


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