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Snapshot on the history of the LPS
Document prepared by Dr Mohamad Itani
Pediatrics appeared as a medical subspecialty in the western communities at the turn of the 19th century. To the best of our knowledge, Dr Philippe Chedid was the first Pediatrician to start a practice in Lebanon.(1,2,3) Dr Chedid had his MD in general medicine from the French faculty in Beirut in 1923 and finished his postgraduate Pediatric training in Paris in 1926.
Pediatric specialty training program was first introduced in Lebanon at the American University Hospital by Dr W. Moore, an Associate Professor in Internal Medicine, who chaired a newly established pediatric Department from 1932-1939. Dr Henri Nachman was the first Lebanese Pediatrician graduating from that department in 1935. Later on, Dr Nachman became the Acting Chairman of that Department from 1939-1950. (2) To the best of our knowledge the number of Pediatricians in Lebanon at that time did not exceed the fingers of one hand. In addition to Drs Chédid and Nachman we can not but remember the eminent pediatricians of that time; Drs Antoine Ferjallah, Helene Safi, Hassan Idriss and Abd El-Ghani Mikati.
In the early 40s a Pediatric specialty program was initiated at the French Faculty of Medicine (FFM) by Dr. Philippe Chédid at the Sacre Coeur Hospital (SCH). Dr. Chédid who was the head of Pediatric Department at SCH, was also in charge of eaching Pediatrics to FFM medical students. One of his graduated, Dr. Michel Tabet, headed thereafter the Pediatric department at SCH for over two decades.
Yet, there was little interest among the pediatricians of that time to register their Pediatric specialty at the Lebanese Order of Physicians (LOP), whose records revealed Dr Bahij Abdul Rahman Tarabah as the first registered male pediatrician on 29th June,1947 and Dr Carmen Wadih Khouri as the first registered female pediatrician on 28th December, 1951.
The foundation of Lebanese Pediatric Society (LPS) goes back to 1959 when pioneers of Pediatric Medicine in Lebanon Drs Philippe Chedid, Antoine Ferjallah, Henri Nachman, Hassan Idriss, Salim Firzli, Ernest Majdalani, Georges Ghanem, and Fuad Atiyeh felt the need to establish a forum where Lebanese Pediatricians can meet and exchange their clinica experiences and intensify the mission of Lebanon as a reference center of medical knowledge in the region. As some of the early records of LPS are missing, the information we got from data and living members of the 1st cabinet point out that Dr. Philippe Chedid was the 1st elected president of the LPS in 1959 His cabinet consisted of 5 members: Dr Chedid president, Dr Nachman vice president, Dr Asia Itani secretary , Dr Carmen Khouri treasurer and Drs Idriss and Firzli members.
In 1961, the society put the bylaws of the society and it consisted of 37 members .By the end of that year around 17 LPS-members convened at LOP site in Gaumont Palace Building at Bechara El-Khoury street and nominated Dr Henri Nachman to chair the 2nd LPS cabinet that arranged the 3rd Union of Middle East and Mediterranean Pediatric
Societies (UMEMPS) congress and the 1st LPS Congress in Beirut, in May 1963, with Dr Nachman and Dr Firzli as president and secretary of that Congress respectively. Lebanon at that time was in a golden era, the famous Swiss pediatrician Dr Fanconi introduced himself during that congress by saying: I am coming from Switzerland, perhaps you don't know Switzerland, its Lebanon of Europe.
Thereafter, Drs Majdalani and Nachman alternated the presidency of the society every 2 years until 1972 when Dr Georges Ghanem was elected as president for 2 years followed by Dr Samir Najjar in 1974. At that time the society consisted of limited number of pediatricians who held scientific meetings every 2 months and represented Lebanon in several international scientific congresses.
Soon after Dr Najjar appointment, Lebanon entered in turmoil of civil war that split the country into two parts. Pediatricians from both sides used to meet across the borders in international congresses, social settings, or in teaching institutions where they exchanged knowledge and held local conferences in their teaching hospitals.
Name of Pediatricians registered in Lebanese order of physicians but not in LPS ( Left), and Pediatricians registered in LPS (Right).
In 1975 Dr Paul Haddad, vice president of Dr Najjar, being the only executive committee member permanently available in the former eastern side, headed the society in that sector and with the absence of Dr Najjar in 1986 he became the acting president of the LPS through 1991, when he was elected as the LPS president with a cabinet consisting of Drs Mariam Rajab (vice president), Carlo Akatcherian, Bernard Jerbaka, Charaf Abou Charaf, Huda Kronfol and Imad Melki until 1993. Dr Haddad founded for the current pediatric society international contributions.
He took care of all national and international commitments of the society. He converted the available small sum of Lebanese pounds of the society to US dollars at a low rate of 3.50 LL per U.S Dollar and collected subscription fees from accessible members in order to maintain LPS membership accounts with international associations such as the International Pediatric Association (IPA) and the UMEMPS. Dr Haddad left the society with a comfortably positive balance account.
While the country was drowned in bloodshed, Lebanese Pediatricians continued to hold their scientific meetings monthly on the East side of the city from home to home, and on weekly basis on the West side through conferences held at American University Hospital of Beirut.