Milestones in the History of Surgical Practice in the Sudan

  By Abdel A`Al Abdella Osman

 Introduction

 Our knowledge of the pattern of medicine that was practiced in Sudan in the early 19th century is small. Broadly speaking, internal diseases were treated with herbs and magico-religious methods, while surgical diseases were mainly treated with cautery, scarifications, various forms of dressings and manipulation with or without modified splinting. Modern medicine was introduced in the beginning of the 20th century by the Anglo-Egyptian army that conquered the Sudan in 1898. It gradually passed through several phases before progressing to its present standard. The few doctors who first came to Sudan were army doctors, manning a small medical service whose main object were to look after the health of the troops.

 Gradually, this small service grew, extending its service to civilians and so not only more army doctors had to be recruited but also civilian doctors were asked to join. The backbones were British doctors in the senior post and Syrian doctors in the junior posts. By 1955, they were all replaced by Sudanese doctors. These pioneers had to work under difficult conditions and quite often had to do additional work unrelated to their training. As a result of their experiences and cumulative hard work over the years, they made a slow but steady progress.

       This paper is meant to give a broad outline of the events through which modern surgery in the Sudan passed; to acknowledge the debt we owe to those pioneers who paved the way for our present medical service and medical training; and to remind our young doctors that medical history, like that of all arts and sciences, is continuous. The past form basis for the present and the present for the future.

       For convenience, this paper is divided into three periods:

 

*        1898-1924: The establishment of medical and health services.

 

*        1924-1949: The training of Sudanese doctors and medical auxiliary staff.

 

*        1949-1972: The development of specialized surgery and the promotion of para-surgical auxiliary functions.