Oct 192020
 

Royal College of Surgeons, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DW

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

In 1937, Hastings Banda, who became the first President of independent Malawi in 1966, travelled to Edinburgh to study medicine. At the time, the Royal College of Surgeons was one of Britain’s only non-university institutions providing a respected medical qualification, the Scottish Triple. Taking his final examinations in 1940, Banda passed all his courses except Surgery and Midwifery. He passed on his fifth attempt, however, and was finally awarded his diploma in July in 1941. In 1977, President Banda donated £350,000 to the College, receiving an honorary fellowship in return. A plaque commemorating Banda was erected outside, but during the campaign for multi-party democracy in the early 1990s, Banda came under widespread criticism. He was an absolute ruler who had outlawed all other political parties and owned 45% of Malawi’s GDP. Despite this, the College refused to take a political stance when asked to return Banda’s donation to Malawi. Dr. Paul Reece noted that no “donations should have been made by the President to a royal college in the UK when there are all the problems in Malawi itself. When I was there we were having adults admitted with starvation.” The College refused, but the plaque has been removed.

Hastings Banda (left) and Julius Nyerere (right).
Hastings Banda (left) and Julius Nyerere (right).
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Apr 032019
 

Royal College of Surgeons today

Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW

Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn was an expert in both forensic medicine and public health. He became President of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1875 and was appointed as Edinburgh’s first Medical Officer of Health in 1862. At the time he was also a police surgeon, medical adviser to the Board of Supervision, extramural lecturer, and crown medical examiner. Littlejohn gave forensic evidence at many famous murder trials, some of which are thought to have provided inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his writing of the Sherlock Holmes series. One of Littlejohn’s first acts as Medical Officer of Health was to publish his Report on the Sanitary Condition on the City of Edinburgh in 1865 which aimed ‘to test for the first time by reference to the mortality, the sanitary conditions of the portions of the city inhabited by the richer and the poorer.’ The conclusions of the Report highlighted the connection between poverty, overcrowding and sanitary conditions in Edinburgh in a way that meant these connections could no longer be ignored by the elite and wealthy. Littlejohn’s Report was thought to be so significant that for the next 12 days the Evening Courant and Caledonian Mercury newspapers published all 120 pages of the report in its entirety.

Painting of Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits: Ema Smekalova, Wikipedia

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