HISTORY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE

 
 
 
At the beginning of 1860. Ministry of education of Principality of Serbia constituted the Committee whose task has been producing of a plan for establishing scientific institutes in Serbia. In March 1860. Committee has introduced to Ministry the proposal titled “Basic structure of our scientific institutions” and had come to the conclusion that medical school would need, besides necessary “gadgets”, at least 24 000 talirs a year.
 
A few doctors have been giving lectures within different subjects at Lyceum. Tuition at these departments has been at highly professional level. Quality text books have been written for some subjects, and graduate students have continued studies, without difficulties, at best universities across Europe and finished them successfully.
 
Founding of Serbian Medical Society and its meetings have been constantly raising the level of professional and scientific doctor’s work, especially in Belgrade, so in 1876. Dr Josif Pancic suggested founding of medical faculty as best way to provide necessary amount of doctors. His proposal has not been adopted.
 
In December 1879 National Assembly has considered “Action for reform of health care profession in Serbia”. The anguish has been expressed because doctors in Serbia were mostly foreigners, so deputy Vasilije Pavić has requested to raise Lyceum at the level of University and educate our students to become doctors. Taking part in the discussion, Dr Vladan Đorđevic stood for sending 20 to 30 trainees to foreign universities.
 
In 1898 during Dr Vladan Đorđević’ governance, by the decision of National Assembly, “University commission” has been established with the task to prepare proposal on changing the status of Lyceum to the university status. Beside four members of Serbian Academy of Science the commission consisted of six professors of Lyceum including Dr Milan Jovanović-Batut. Commission suggested establishing medical faculty within future university.
 
In order to support this important issue, in 1899. Dr Milan Jovanović Batut has published the study in 124 pages titled “ Medical faculty of Serbian university”, trying to offer the answer to three questions: 1. Does Serbia need medical faculty? 2. Does our society provide possibilities for establishing it? Would medical faculty create doctors’ establishment? Dr Batut has concluded that university is incomplete without medical faculty; therefore it is necessary both scientifically and politically. He was convinced that this institution has got all necessary capabilities to survive and progress. Dr Batut has emphasized that its establishing is of the greatest national importance.
 
Discussions on this matter have been re-activated in 1904, with parallel finishing of law proposal by which Lyceum has been raised to the university level. Law on University has been brought on March 12, 1905. University consisted of 5 faculties: theological, philosophical, law, medical and technical. Basic studies within medical faculty have lasted 10 semesters, and 8 within others.
 
In accordance to this law, in June 1905, minister of education has set up Commission for medical faculty, whose members were rector, few university professors, chiefs of military and civil health care, headmaster and chiefs of all departments of General public hospital, which had to make the report on most urgent affairs and requirements regarding establishing of medical faculty. This body had started two sub-commissions. One consisted of three doctors and architect Andra Stefanović, university professor, with the task to choose sites for building of institutes and faculty clinics within General public hospital. Other commission consisted of Dr Milan Jovanović Batut, chairman, and members – Dr Milan Radovanović, headmaster of General public hospital and Dr Eduard Mihel, head of forensic institutes of this hospital.  Its job was estimation of necessary supplies’ amount necessary for the start of tuition. This commission had calculated that around 200 000 dinars per year should be provided by the budget in order to create fund for building of clinics and institutes’ facilities. It had requested  4 000 dinars per year to be provided from government for these expenses. As government had not reacted to this request, nor provided any funds, the commission as sub-commissions stopped their work.
 
In 1910 Dr Lazar Genčić proposed establishing of Ministry of National Health, whose primary goal would be opening of medical faculty in Belgrade. Persistent and unshakable Dr Milan Jovanović Batut wrote in his article “Give people more doctors”, published in magazine “Health” in 1910 that he was convinced that Serbia would not have enough doctors as our people needed them, as long as medical faculty did not exist.
 
Application has been adopted which had been supposed to be submitted by Serbian Medical Society to important subjects such as Crown, Government and National Assembly, by which adoption of law on establishing Medical faculty will be requested. The Commission for medical faculty has been elected, consisting of following members: Dr Milan Jovanović Batut, Dr Đoka Nikolic and Dr Eduard Mihel.
 
This issue has been brought again much later up when providing of financial resources for doctor’s education and specialization has been requested from the Assembly. In 1912 National Assembly has been asked to assign 1 500 000 dinars from the funds of Health Care in purpose of sending 45 cadets to medical studies and 18 doctors to the specializations abroad. While this proposal had been examined by the Financial Board of the assembly, ran by Dr Lazar Paču, he proposed establishing of the faculty as more rational option. The Board agreed. Upcoming Balkan wars have interrupted these efforts. Besides substantial help of foreign health care missions, these wars showed that Serbia lacks great number of trained doctors. In accordance to these efforts, at the beginning of 1914. Dr Milan Jovanović Batut and Dr Vojislav J. Subbotić have been assigned to prepare Draft of organizational framework of medical faculty. Official proposal for founding of the faculty has been sent to National Assembly and Government, which has been adopted. In March of 1914. Stojan Protić, minister of internal affairs, enabled visit of medical commission to the European university centers in purpose of studying organization and work of these universities. Commission members were professor of hygiene and forensic medicine Dr Milan Jovanović Batut, head of Department of surgery of General Public hospital Dr Vojislav J. Subbotić and head of forensic medicine of General public hospital Dr Eduard Mihel. During six weeks commission has visited 17 medical faculties in Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia and Romania, including counties similar to Serbia and cities with approximately same population as Belgrade.
 
Upon its return, Commission has written an address upon which Stojan Protić, minister of internal affairs, at the end of May 1914. brought Decree on founding of medical faculty within organizational structure of University of Belgrade. Its final establishing was disabled by breaking of World War I on July 29, 1914. During this war Serbia has lost almost half of its doctors, including many who were supposed to become first teachers and heads of departments at the medical faculty, e.g. Dr Eduard Mihel, Dr Toma Leko, etc.
 
Six years had passes from bringing of Decree on founding of Medical Faculty to its final start. At the first session of University Council held on March 28, 1919, Ljubimir Davidović, minister of education, demands opening of Medical and Agricultural faculties from new school year (1919/1920) in Belgrade, and appointing of commission’ members for the Medical Faculty: Dr Milan Jovanović Batut, honorary university professor, Dr Vojislav J. Subbotić, head of department of surgery of General public hospital,  Dr Živojin Đorđevic, biologist and professor of Faculty of Philosophy, and Dr Nikola Vulić, chemist and university professor.
 
The document signed by minister of education from September 11th, 1919, by which the  university Rectorat has been informed about appointment of Dr Vojislav J. Subbotić, surgeon, and Dr Milan Jovanović Batut for full university professors, has been formally read at the ninth session of university council. Two of them have chosen Dr Drago Petrović, head of Anatomy institute of University of Zagreb for full professor of regular and topographic anatomy. Board of three full professors has been established.
 
It is considered that by the first session of Board, held on February 6th, 1920, School of Medicine (official title) started officially its work. Dr Milan Jovanović Batut has been appointed for Dean and prof. Dr Vojislav J. Subbotić for Vice-Dean at that historic session. The Board appointed Dr Đorđe Jovanović, professor of pathology at the university in Vienna for professor at the Department of Pathology. It has also formally requested Ministry of army and navy to temporarily concede some facilities which belonged to the Military hospital in Belgrade, and Ministry of national health to concede the building to the Institute of physiology, which was approved in short time.
 
Dr Drago Perović has resigned the position of full professor on April 9th, 1920, for medical reasons. In June 1920, during surgeons’ congress in Paris, Vice-Dean prof. Dr Vojislav Subbotić has invited Dr Niko Miljanić, who specialized surgery and has been working at the Institute of Anatomy in Paris, to come to Belgrade and start Anatomy Institute, which he accepted. On August 13th, 1920, Council elected him for honorary professor of descriptive and topographic anatomy. Board has also decided that tuition in biology, chemistry and physics will be performed by professors of philosophical faculty Živojin Đorđević, Sima Lozanić and Đorđe Stanojević until selection of adequate teachers.
 
At the session held on October 10th, 1920, the Board has elected Dr Rihard Burijan from Medical faculty in Laipzig for full professor of physiology, and on October 29th Dr Aleksandar Đ. Kostić for honorary professor of histology and embryology. After election of teachers for the first year of studies, 286 students have been enrolled in the school year 1920. /21, in September 1920.
 
The academic year at the School of Medicine started on December 9th, 1920. In the ceremonial hall of the old university dome, in Captain Miša edifice, the Dean has formally opened School of Medicine, University of Belgrade, in the presence of rector, several professors of University of Belgrade and all professors of School of Medicine. After this ceremony, Dr Niko Miljanić has given his initial lecture to the first generation of students, enrolled in school year 1920/1921. This day is celebrated as Day of School of Medicine. Practical anatomy classes have started when the facilities of Department for epidemic of Military hospital of First army district in Belgrade were finished.
 
In next months and years other professors have been elected and academic year has been gradually arranged. Nevertheless, sole existence of the School was jeopardized. Not even a year after its founding, initiatives for its abolishing have emerged. They were justified by claims that Medical faculty in Zagreb is sufficient for Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians and that there are no satisfactory conditions for the work of School of medicine in Belgrade. In 1921 Assembly of the Kingdom has constituted the Commission in the purpose of examining the work of this School. One day members of commission have suddenly visited Institute of Anatomy, and found there more than 200 hundred young people who have been working enthusiastically, and therefore the Institute has left so positive impression that the report of the commission has been highly favorable for our School.
 
Four years later Stjepan Radić, minister of education, has requested closure of some faculties, for financial reasons, and among them was School of medicine. The public reaction was so bitter and negative, especially of Serbian Medical Society, which responded by official statement, strongly condemning government intentions to close this institution of immense cultural and scientific value.
 
School of medicine has continued its work and pedagogical and scientific activities have been constantly improving. It has also been given financial resources, so the building of institutes of anatomy, pathology and histophysiology has been finished, as well as internal propedeutics, first and second internal clinics. After a couple of years, the financial crisis which was apparent in the whole world has stroked our country too, and its consequences were felt at the School of medicine too. A large amount of auxiliary staff had to be fired in 1927. During 1928. there were initiatives on closing the School. Despite numerous difficulties, School has been slowly progressing, and before World War II it achieved high standards of scientific, medical and pedagogical work.
 
Its hardest times School of medicine had during World War II. Classes have been stopped. A few buildings which belonged to this institution have been damaged, and a large number of instruments, scientific and collections used for lecturing have been destroyed. Institute of histology and physiology, one of the most beautiful objects of the School was almost completely crushed. It has been renewed after the war, but its original outlook has never been restored. The building of gynecology-obstetrics clinic has become new dome of School of medicine (Head Building) and it has been situated there up to nowadays.