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Arch Hellen Med, 19(6), November-December 2002, 700-709


The first Greek medical congress: One century ago

International Hippocratic Foundation, Kos, Greece

After two unofficial attempts during the years 1882 and 1887, the Medical Society of Athens organized, one century ago, the First Greek Medical Congress. It was held in Athens between 6 and 11 May 1901. The purpose of this study is to examine the content of this Congress and thus the scientific interests of the Greek doctors at this time. The data were derived from the book of the Proceedings of the Congress published in Athens in 1902, as well as from the medical journals, especially “Medical Progress” (1901, 1902, 1903) and “La Grιce Mιdicale”, as the more interesting items from the Congsess were published as full papers over the following three years. The organizing committee comprised: Rigas Nikolaides, Professor of Physiology at Athens University, president (Chairman), Nicolaos Pezopoulos, Professor of Histology and Pathology, and George Vafas, Professor of Forensic Pathology and Toxicology at Athens University, vice presidents, Michael Magakis, ENT, general secretary, Michael Kaires, physician-obstetrician and Demetrios Kokkoris, Associate Professor of Surgery, general secretaries, Dionysios Gouzaris, obstetrician-gynecologist, treasurer. The overall number of participants reached 460, the majority of whom were from Athens and various parts of Greece. Moreover, famous Greek doctors of the diaspora (Constantinople, Smyrna, Asia minor and its islands, Egypt, Cyprus, Macedonia, Epirus and Europe, especially from France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria) were participants. From Constantinople came 36 doctors, including the world famous dermatologist Demetrios Zambakos pasha, Spyridon Mavrogenis pasha and Alexandros Kampouroglous pasha, surgeons, the famous surgeons Antonios Dallas and Tomazos Sgourdeos and the pioneer oculists Alexios Trantas and Ananias Gabrielides. From Smyrna came the surgeons well-known in East Apostolos Psaltof and Michael Tsakyroglous. From Egypt came the famed in all Europe Stefanos Kartoulis, who discovered the etiological factor of dysenteric amebiasis. Marinos Gerulanos came from Kiel, Vladimiros Bensis and Spyridon Klados from Paris, Panagis Libieratos from Genoa and Gerasimos Fokas from Lille, France. The presence of representatives of the opposite sex, Maria Kalapothaki and Erene Boulala, should also be pointed out. The Congress therefore extended beyond the Greek boundaries, which contributed to a higher scientific level and versatility of the matters discussed during the sessions. It could be said that the Congress was, in a way, both Balkanian and European. The onganizing committee had arranged 12 theme sections: tuberculosis and sanatoriums in Greece, the use of alcoholic beverages in Greece and its consequences, the persistent fevers in Greece, leprosy, ecchinococcus in Greece, school hygiene, appendicitis, the surgical treatment of turberculosis, the use of sterilization and antiseptics, dystocias due to pelvic abnormalities, ocular lesions in infectious diseases and syphilis in Greece. In these sections 31 presentations and 19 interventions were made, and 8 proposals were voted unanimously. The total number of presentations at the Congress was more than 275. Among the issues discussed during the meeting, many remain up-to-date even after a century. For example, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases and school hygiene continue to concern contemporary doctors at the same level and intensity as then. On the other hand, issues concerning social and individual consequences of infectious diseases have changed scientific direction but are always crucial, e.g. rabies, malaria, pestis, viral infections and resistant nosocomial infections. In this study an attempt has been made to describe medical events attended by Greek doctors a century ago and to underline the remarkable level of medical information and education.

Key words: History of the Athens Medical Society, First Greek Medical Congress, Medical history.

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