History and Internal Medicine

Agnódice (Greece 4th century BC)

She had to dress up as a boy and cut her hair to study medicine. She was a very popular gynecologist, to the extent that by professional colleagues accused her of seducing and abusing their patients. During the trial she lifted her robe to reveal that the charges against her were baseless. The impersonation to exercise a profession barred to the female gender was capital punishment. She was saved because the women she served stood up for her, said they knew her identity and so chose her as a professional. The authorities spared her life and let her continue working according to legend.

Trotula from Salerno (Italy, born around 1110)

She wrote one of the most important treatises of the time in gynecology, consulted by specialists from all over Europe. She wrote about menstruation and male sterility in the Medical Age. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they wanted to deny her authorship claiming that Trotula was “Trotulus”, since no woman could have that level of wisdom.

Mary Wortley Montagu (Great Britain, 1689-1762)

Mary Wortley Montagu, writer and travelle, pioneered immunization and in half a century Edward Jenner anticipated that he launched it scientifically in 1796. Mary, who had seen her brother die from smallpox, brought the practice of “variolization” from the Ottoman Empire to England as a prophylaxis against the disease.  She inoculated her children and faced the prejudices that then existed against the practice. She pioneered vaccination.

225 years ago, the world’s first vaccine was born

Edward Jenner (Berkeley, Royaume-Uni, 1747-1823)

Jenner made the experience with several children and submitted a report to the Royal Society of London which rejected it and for several years suffered tenacious opposition, until in 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte ordered to vaccinate his entire troop.

In 1944, the International Health Convention established the International Smallpox Vaccination Certificate, required by the different countries of the world. This certificate was approved at the fourth WHO World Health Assembly in 1951. It should be noted that the antivariolic vaccine in the world was suppressed in the 1980s, as a result of the eradication of the disease.

Wiessbaden (Germany): 1st Congress of Internal Medicine (1882) and 17th European Congress of Internal Medicine (2018). Professor Roberto Cataldi Amatriain and his resident doctor Franco Amaro in the congress. Two generations and one speciality.

A Shameful History

In the middle of the last century, the Lomidine (pentamidine), suppose miraculous vaccine or preventive drug that was supposed to immunize millions of people in equatorial Africa by a virus that produces the “sleep sickness”, and that spreads the fly tse-tsetse.

The continent had already gone through several epidemics of this disease. The colonial authorities (Belgium, France, Portugal, Great Britain) never recongnized that part of the epidemic was due to the climatic conditions and poor health of the workers. As a prevention drug produced many serious side effects.

A note on the history of internal medicine: neither in Germany nor by Strumpell

Internal  Medicine. Logbook. Francisco Medrano González M.D. (Albacete, Spain)

The author says that the term “internal medicine” began to be  in use at the beginning of the 18th century (not at the end of the 19th century) in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

The term Internal Medicine did not begin to be used in the Anglo-Saxon countries at the end of the 19th century, but throughout Europe and especially in the Mediterranean countries, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, together with Germany, since the beginning of the 18th century.

The term Internal Medicine was not used for the first time in the First Congress of Internal Medicine of Wiesbaden (1882), although it is possible that it was the first congress that was held, as such, on the subject.

Strumpell’s Treatise on Internal Medicine (1874) was not the first.

Many others were previously published throughout the 19th century, including the following: