You are on page 1of 13

Hospital on the Nile

Harpur Memorial Hospital

100 years of service to Egypt

In 1910, the foundation was laid for Harpur Memorial

Hospital in the city of Menouf. This booklet shows
some of the milestones in this history of 100 years of
Anglican/Episcopal service to our beloved nation of
If the history of Harpur Memorial Hospital shows
anything, it is the importance of people with a vision
and with the ability and the stamina to make their
vision a reality. History is created by the lives of
ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
History is also mysterious. Why are we able to
celebrate the centennial of this hospital, while other
great projects and initiatives have disappeared? We
believe that this has to do with the unseen hand of
God who has guided the minds, the hands, the feet, of
the people involved in Harpur Memorial Hospital. We
have done according to the best of our abilities; God
has blessed our work. This is also our confidence when
we look at the future of Harpur Memorial Hospital.
‘The God of heaven, he will prosper us, therefore we
his servants will rise and build.’
We hope the reading of this booklet will encourage
you to also participate in this project that has served
so many people in the past 100 years, so that we will
be able to serve many more in the years ahead. To
the glory of God, and for the wellbeing of our beloved

Rt Rev Mouneer Hanna Anis

Houseboat on the Nile

In 1889 the young doctor Frank J. Harpur, an Irishman,

came with his wife to Egypt for starting a medical
service to the nation. For him and his colleagues, this
was a manner of expressing their love for God through
Jesus Christ. While on the ship on which he sailed to
Egypt, he wrote that in his opinion his medical work
needed ‘a large population both at the center selected
and in the country around, where excursion could be
undertaken in order to make friends with the people
and get known as a doctor.’ The initial idea was to do
so in Suez, but Dr Harpur decided that Old Cairo would
be a better place to start from. At that time, Old Cairo
was the major Nile harbor of Cairo, so the place was
always full of boatmen and merchants.
In Old Cairo, Dr Harpur began with an outpatient
clinic, but to his delight the first beds were filled with
inpatients in 1890. Most of the first patients preferred
to sleep on the floor on mats and mattresses. By 1895
the hospital has 10 beds and it became clear that a
much larger building would be needed. On 18
February, Harpur wrote in his journal: ‘158 patients
today. 16 operations performed (mostly Trichiasis)’.
Patients were coming from the Old Cairo district, but
also from the provinces of Giza, Qalioubiya and
In 1897, a new and larger hospital with 25 beds was
opened, after Harpur had worked hard to convince
CMS, his sending agency in England, that this was
urgently needed. Present at the opening of the new
hospital were, among many others, High Commissioner
Lord Cromer and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Cyril
(Kirollos) V.
Harpur valued his medical work in the province of
Menoufiya very highly. From the beginning he and his
team made trips with houseboats for visiting formers
patients and helping new patients. As early as 1894,
we read in his diary of his visits to Menoufiya: ‘In May
and June 1894, we itinerated on Tewfiqiya and
Menoufiya canals in a houseboat. The dahabiya
[houseboat] stopped at six centres. We visited 42
villages; 2,844 patients were treated; forty small
surgical operations were performed.’ These trips
resulted in a permanent outstation being started in the
city of Menouf.
Harpur must have made quite an impression on the
Egyptian farmers; he would often go from village to
village on a donkey, for treating patients whenever he
was called. As he did not come to the people as a
foreign ‘master’ but as one of them, he was deeply
appreciated by the people he had come to serve.
Endearingly, the people called him ‘Harmel’, and
therefore even today the hosital is called Harmel
Hospital by many.
Harpur was so eager to develop the work in
Menoufiya, that he left the Cairo hospital completely in
1903. This hospital was now widely known and of very
good reputation. Harpur preferred to develop new
work by touring Menoufiya with a houseboat. In 1910
this resulted in the opening of a small dispensary in
Menouf, which became the basis for a century of
service to the people of Menouf and its surroundings.
Harpur Memorial Hospital (1910-1980)

Harpur made the dispensary in Menouf the center for

his medical work in the region, with outstations in
Ashmoun and Bey al-Arab. The work in Menouf grew
I find the patients trust me fast, so in 1918 more
because they trust the land was bought and
reputation of Harpur. The new buildings erected.
hospital is well known in the A real hospital was
area and it is known for its built; the original
excellent care of patients. dispensary was
(Nahed Fayez, General Practice converted into inpatient
Nurse, 2010) wards.
From the inception of the medical work of the
Anglican Church in Egypt, the major diseases that
plagued the farmers were bilharzia and
ancylostomiasis, two diseases causes by parasitic
worms. The results of the treatment of bilharzia by
Harpur and his team were so good, that the Egyptian
Ministry of Health was insoired to set up treatment
units in every city of Egypt, using Harpur’s method of
After this initial phase of hospital development in
Menouf, Harpur considered his work there done, and
he returned to Old Cairo. His leadership role in Menouf
was taken over by Dr Alfred Hargreaves, another
British gentleman.
Under Hargreaves, the hospital in Menouf and its
outclinics continued to grow. In 1922, the hospital had
40 beds. In the previous year, 11,268 outpatients
were treated, and 793 operations performed. A third
outstation was opened in Shubra Zanga.
In 1924-5, quarters were built for the Egyptian
doctors that worked in the Menouf Hospital. The
British founders had always hired Egyptian doctors and
nurses, and their role was increasingly important.
People like Dr Tawfiq Naguib, Dr Andrew Shakhashiri,
Dr Abd el-Malik Saad and Dr Wahba Basta were well
known during these early years of the hospital for the
professional work they performed out of love for God
and for their countrymen. This attitude of love and
service has been build into the foundation of the
hospital and its personnel.
A major step for the hospital was the appointment
in 1929 of Dr Abd el-Malik Saad as the director, after
Hargreaves was transferred to work in Palestine. Abd
el-Malik had worked for many years in the hospital,
and besides being an able doctor, he was totally
devoted to serving his own people. When the hospital
went through a phase of dramatic financial problems in
1932, Abd el-Malik was
prepared to personally The treatment is so very good
see to it that the work here! I’ve been here only 2
could survive. hours and I already feel much
Is it strange that from better! (Patient in intensive care
this environment of with Unstable Angina, 2010)
professionalism and
Christian love, some of
Egypt’s greatest medical doctors were developed?
They cannot be mentioned all, but a few suffice to
show the great quality of the doctors in Menouf. Dr
Fouad Boulos, an assistant of Abd el-Malik, became
one of Egypt’s foremost urologists. Dr Saad Fahmy,
one of the leaders in Menouf in the 1950s later settled
in England as an orthopedic Surgeon. By then, the
name of the hospital had been changed into Harpur
Memorial Hospital, to remember the great man who
with his vision, energy and love had become a great
blessing to innumerable Egyptians.
In 1956, Dr Ramzy Moawwad became the director.
This gentle doctor was able only with his kindness to
lighten the pain of his patients! He inherited the
leadership of the hospital in a very difficult time.
Whereas in previous years, the hospital and its medical
work could always count on the generosity of benefac-
tors worldwide, 1956 marked the beginnings of
international tensions
At Harpur they discovered
that impacted the
my TB which went
hospital. For many
undiagnosed under so
years, the service of the
many doctors whom I’d
dedicated doctors and
seen before. (Patient with
nurses of Harpur
Diabetes and
Memorial Hospital
Hypertension, 2010)
suffered from financial
tensions. One of the reasons for this was that in 1961,
the government’s ophthalmic hospital had taken over
half of Harpur Memorial for four months. Well, those
four months actually lasted 20 years. This reduced the
number of beds from 80 to 40, cutting the income for
the hospital by 50%. This made it impossible to invest
in modern diagnostic equipment; different depart-
ments had to close in order for the hospital as a whole
to survive those difficult years.
Renewal (1980-2010)

In 1980, Dr Mouneer Hanna became the director of

Harpur Memorial
I am a Muslim and before I Hospital; with youthful
didn’t know how to talk to enthusiasm he was
Christians. Now I interact with able to put the
them all the time and I am so hospital on a course
used to it. (2010) of modernization.
That was urgently
needed as at that time, because the hospital had for
years been suffering from underfunding.
After Dr Mouneer took over, he was encouraged by
Dr Adel Aziz to resurrect the old surgical department.
Dr Taky Sanad opened a pediatric clinic, and Dr Faafat
Riad joined the hospital. Dr Afaf Milad
professionalized the dispensing of medicines. The
level of nursing care was remarkably raised by Mrs
Kawthar Higazy, who trained so many nurses.
Within years, Dr Two other hospitals
Mouneer was able to recommended Harpur
increase the services Memorial Hospital to me. I
the hospital rendered to was referred here 4 months
Egypt and its people. ago with assurance I would be
Very helpful was that in treated very well. All the staff
1981, the government here are good. The hospital
released full power over has given me a level of care
the hospital to its that I no longer need surgery
owners again! Between on my foot; it has healed by
1980 and 1984, the itself.”
total number of patients (Patient suffering from
increased from 3,400 to 9,982. 2010) the number
of outpatients increased, in line with the growing
insight that whenever possible community based
rehabilitation should replace the concept of keeping
patients in the hospital. The number of X-rays
increased from 297 to 1,715. While in 1980 no blood
analysis was done, in 1984 3,194 analyses were done.
The number of operations increased from 26 to 189.
In the last years of this decade of renewal, the
number of operations grew I received a letter only last
to more than 800 per year, week from a government
with about 2000 inpatients. health minister who was so
The hospital does annually impressed by the staff at the
over 5,000 scans, 25,000 lab hospital that he felt the need
tests. to write and express his
In the year 2000, Dr gratitude for the service
Mouneer was called by his here to the Egyptian
diocese to become the new people”, While getting the
bishop of Egypt, North Africa best possible mecical care,
and the Horn of Africa. Dr many patients for the first
Henny Abadir took over as time in their life interact on a
deeper level than ever
before with Christians. That
is so important for the social
fabric of our society. (Dr
Samir Rizkalla, the director
of Harpur Memorial Hospital.
the hospital director. People who know him
characterize him as ‘a very gifted physician, who took
good care of his patients. A very caring doctor.’ Under
Dr Henny, a Family Medicine department was started.
Family Medicine is an emerging specialty in Egypt,
with very little formal training available. The Family
Medicine department at Harpur is small (2 full time
doctors), but in 2009, it saw over 12,000 patients.
Since 2010, Harpur’s Familie Medicine department
offers training to five in-house junior doctors for a
period of two years.
In 2004, Dr Samir Rizkalla became the hospital
director, with Dr Michel Fahmy as his deputy. Under
their leadership, Harpur Memorial Hospital contimued
serving the city of Menouf and beyond.
Presently, Harpur Memorial has 13 fulltime and 17
part-time doctors, beside 36 nurses and two
pharmacists. The hospital has 75 beds. It has
continued to add to its specializations. Therefore
presently, the hospital has the following specializations
and departments:
Internal Medicine and Cardiology
GIT Endoscopy
Dermatology Clinic
Pediatric and Neonatology Department
General surgery and Urology Department
Gynaecology, Obstetric and Family Planning Clinic
Orthopedic Surgery
Dental Clinic
Laparoscopic Surgery
Radiology and Ultrasonography
Intensive Care
The city of Menouf now has about 400.000
inhabitants, with more in the villages around. Against
this backdrop, the fact that in 2010, 60.000
outpatients were served, the impact of the hospital is
clear. And the medical needs in and around Menouf
continue to be great. Some people also come from
further away; people with leprosy, for instance, come
to this hospital from across Egypt, as most other
hospitals will not treat them. They feel that here, at
this hospital, they are loved and accepted, as well as
treated. This gentle and professional care in the name
of the Lord is recognized my many.

2010 and Beyond

Looking back to how Harpur Memorial Hospital has

been able to serve the nation of Egypt should make its
staff and all people who are involved, proud and
thankful. It shows how much can be accomplished
when people dedicate themselves to serving with
In the years ahead, Harpur Memorial will continue
serving the people of Menouf and its environment,
very much as was done in the past 100 years. There
will be changes as well. Community based health care
and rehabilitation will get more attention. There is
much need for rehabilitation of patients at home, for
instance after suffering from a stroke or after an
operation. Primary health care will also get more
attention, as well as Family Medicine. Especially
marginalized groups will be served, like women, the
elderly, and special groups like leprotics.
All the dreams dreamt and the lessons learned in
the past 100 years, will also be extended by the
hospital staff in Menouf, to its new ‘outstation’ in Sadat
City. In this manner Harpur Memorial Hospital hopes
to not only continue serving its own environment of
Menouf in the years ahead. Hopefully, in 100 years
time, new generations that have been served with
health care in Sadat City will commemorate the
centennial of the opening of their own Sadat City
Hospital. Thus the vision and energetic work of love of
Dr Frank Harpur will continue to impact our beloved
people of Egypt.