by Chelvathamby Maniccavasagar
The Green Memorial Hospital which is located in Manipay was founded in 1847 by Dr Samuel Fiske Green, a young medical graduate from New York, United States, which was later renamed as Green Memorial Hospital in his honour.
This mission hospital was the first medical school in Sri Lanka taking in the first students in 1848. Manipay hospital has already completed more than 165 years and its main objective is to provide medical service to the surrounding communities.
In 1948, the ‘century block’ was added, but the conflict which was prevailing for more than 30 years has ravaged what was once a large medical complex, reducing the hospital to a small dispensary.
In fact, this was the second oldest teaching hospital set up in South Asia. During its glory days, this hospital served the community with all medical and surgical departments and was one of the best maternity wards in the whole island.
When the American Missionaries left Sri Lanka (Ceylon), the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI) was set up and it took control of running this hospital. It is run by a board of governors.
Dr Samuel Green was born on October 10, 1822 in America to Mr and Mrs William E Green. On completion of his school education he joined as a clerical assistant and due to his inborn talent, he resigned from his job in 1841 and concentrated in medical studies. He gained a vast knowledge in medicine and surgery by way of associating with eminent doctors in America. Thereafter, he joined a prestigious medical college in America and passed out as a doctor in 1845. In a short period, he got a job as a surgeon in New York. But, his main aim was to do missionary work since several Americans were involved in missionary activities in the spheres of education, religion and even medicine.
In 1819, several American missionaries came to Ceylon and started several schools, religious organizations and medical activities. In 1820, an American medical specialist by the name of Dr John founded a medical institution in Pandaththerupu in Jaffna. After a short period Dr John returned to his native land and Dr Samuel Green took over this hospital and conducted this medical institution to the greatest satisfaction of the local community.
In 1846, several American missionaries have gone to India to serve there, but Dr Samuel Green wanted to serve in Jaffna and commenced his medical activities in Vaddukoddai in Jaffna. When he started to serve at Vaddukkodai several patients did not patronize his hospital as Dr Green belonged to the American missionaries. But, there was a Tamil scholar by the name of Muthathamby who was suffering from excruciating pain in the stomach. In fact, he approached several doctors in the village, but they could not cure his pain. Thereafter the patient, Muthathamby was taken to Dr Samuel Green and he was completely cured of his sickness.
Realizing this, from that day onwards patients went to Dr Green and his name and fame spread to all parts of Jaffna peninsula and he was highly recognised and respected by the people of Jaffna.
Dr Samuel Green’s main aim was to teach Western Medicine to indigenous population and for this purpose he took tremendous effort combined with dedication, devotion and commitment. Besides, he started learning Tamil language since he had already mastered English, Latin, German, French and Greek languages. As such, learning Tamil language was easy for him and along with this, he thoroughly understood the lifestyle of the people of Jaffna which immensely helped him to perform his medical profession.
Western medical books
He also translated several Western medical books into Tamil. In fact, he commenced his translation work in 1850 and his first book was ‘Angathipatham’ written by one Dr Kalavin which he completed in 1851.
This translation was highly commended by the Tamil scholars in the neighbouring countries. In 1855, Dr Samuel Green started teaching Western medicine in Tamil with great success.
Though Dr Green came to Ceylon to spread his religion, he was also very much interested in Tamil language. In 1856, he wrote a Tamil book on gynaecology which brought him fame and glory.
On completion of ten years of medical service in Jaffna, he returned to his country with his wife. After five years of break, he came to Ceylon in 1862 with his wife and continued with his medical practice. He even translated Western medical books into Malayalam. In 1863, the then government of Ceylon requested him to be in-charge of Jaffna medical hospital, which he reluctantly accepted.
Dr Samuel Fiske Green, after having served at Vaddukkodai for one year, shifted his dispensary to Manipay. It was during this period that Dr Green started publishing leading Western medical works in Tamil. This was motivated by a desire for indigenousizing Christianity.
He translated books on Human Physiology by Professor Dalton, Human Anatomy compiled by Gray Horner, Chemistry Practical and Theoretical by David, Science and Art of Surgery compiled by Erishen and Dornitt and several other books.
This Manipay Green Memorial Hospital was revived in 2004 by well-wishers including Anandan Arnold and Dr Jayantha Arnold, consultant physician and Gastro Enterologist, UK, who subsequently formed the Friends of Manipay Hospial (FoM), a registered UK Charity. In fact, the then Bishop Dr Jebanesan should be highly congratulated for revitalizing this hospital. Indeed, this prestigious medical hospital which was built in memory of Dr Samuel Green, is in a dilapidated condition now due to the conflict which prevailed for 30 years. Renovation and refurbishment should be done.
As such, it will be greatly appreciated if philanthropists and well-wishers fantastically and fabulously donate to maintain the glory of this hospital.