x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Time Frame: The modest start of modern medicine in the UAE

The original Oasis Hospital building, seen here in 1961, was a guesthouse donated by the late Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE.

Dr Pat Kennedy treats a woman at the original Oasis Hospital in 1961.
Dr Pat Kennedy treats a woman at the original Oasis Hospital in 1961.

It may not appear so at first glance, but the woman in this photograph is part of an extraordinary experiment that transformed medicine in Abu Dhabi.

Squatting on the ground with her concerned husband, she is receiving treatment for a hand injury from Dr Pat Kennedy, an American missionary who set up the Oasis hospital in Al Ain with his wife Marian.

The Kennedys came at the invitation of Sheikh Zayed, who was the ruler's representative in the region and was concerned about the high incidence of illness, and in particular the high levels of infant and maternal mortality.

When this photograph was taken in 1961, the first hospital buildings had yet to be constructed. Instead, Sheikh Zayed offered his guest house as a temporary base for providing treatment.

Dr Kennedy died in 2000, while his wife passed away two years ago.

By then the Oasis Hospital was part of a system of medical care equal to any in the world. The Kennedys also raised four children in Al Ain - daughters Nancy and Kathleen and sons Scott and Douglas - who are almost certainly in the group at the back of the photograph.

 

* The National

 

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae.