BELGIAN DOCTORS AND PHARMACISTS.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir.—The Otago Division of the British Medical Association is much indebted to vou for the valuable space devoted bv vour paper to tho report of its meeting" and to the announcement of its project' ui supporting the. associations London fund in aid of destitute medical men and pharmacists in Belgium. Upon receipt of the subjoined moving letter from Professor Jacobs, of Brussels, and the adjoined appeal by the leading medical men in London, tho members of this division agreed unanimously and enthusiastically' that, although all had already contributed to one or more of trio general funds for patriotic or relief purposes, this appeal on behalf of their Belgian brother-practitioners was peculiarly deserving of their most prompt and generous support. The division zealously commends its project to the doctors and pharmacists of Otago, and, while not canvassing for funds outside the ranks of these professions, it will gratefully welcome donations from anv member of the. community who may feel that tho object is one claiming his" support by reason of past benefits, or who realises that to help the Belgian doctors and pharmacists to continue their beneficent work is to help the remaining population of Belgium in need of medical aid and comforts. Any such contributions may bo forwarded through the family medical attendant or pharmacist to the local treasurer (Dr Colquhoun), or may be paid direct, into the " Fund for Belgian Doctors and Pharmacists " at tho Bank of X'ew Zealand, Princes street.—l am, etc., The Pkf.sident. Otago Division British Medical Association. January 18. THE POSITION OF BKLGIAX DOCTORS AND PHARMACISTS. [Bv Professor (.'. Jacobs, University of Brussels.] Belgium, a blood-stained and ruined country in the horrors of despair, claims the heip of her friends, to whom her freelyconsented sacrifice has brought a ray of hope in the dreadful nightmare of the past three and a-half months. I raise my voice with a feeling of intense pity on behalf of thousands of our weeping brethren in their Calvary of suffering, but it is my pride to carry out this duty to my country. The first >.mpulse of the Belgian medical world is to make au appeal to Great Britain, whose kindness has proved itself in such unbounded measure end with such tact and generosity. The German iron list has closed upon our country ; we have to witness the endless series of crimes that are committed in all our provinces, and we have to abide in silence. All the evil; of war have been thrust upon us at tho same time—a useless and cruel holocaust of human lives, a, decimated, despairing, and starving population, ruined homes, and, far worse, than all, our children —the only hope of our country— ar« being mown down by want and disease. Our doctors have not- been spared; they, too, ar > beinng a heavy shaie of the general suffering. And now lorn; weeks, nay months, of trial stand before them, during which they know that they will have to bear a terrible burden. ' They will have, to devote themselves untiringly, givingall their cave and time, and even their lives, if need be, to the cause of their country: and yet many of them, victims of a barbarous foe, are homeless, deprived of their laboratories, instruments. and their medical stores. What will become of those that still remain of our people, threatened as they are by the grim havoc of war and by contagious disease, its constant follower?
In anticipation of these inevitable consequences it has become- my duty, as the spokesman of my Belgian" colleagues, to appeal to the medical and pharmaceutical world that an impulse of international fraternity may come to the aid of Belgian doctors and pharmacists. Is it realised what we in Belgium have suffered and are suffering? Duty, and duty only, has bound our doctors and pharmacists to their posts in the devastated localities. Some of them are carrying on their profession in the ruined remains of destroyed buildings-, whereas others havo to improvise at haphazard any kind of shelter for their Samaritan work. Need I describe the manner in which they sustain themselves, and how they manage to nourish their wives and children?
I have witnessed such misery amongst them! Some have, had to work as navvies in order to have a few pence m their pockets; others have told me that they had not seen bread for a fortnight, but had lived exclusively on potatoes. Others had a meagre bunch of straw laid on the bare ground as a bedstead; the only pair of boots owned by one of them was falling to pieces in tatters. Men I have seen wore dressed in torn garments, and their children wore in rags. One, of my colleagues had to live on wayside herbs for three days and three nights, and his wife shared his fate ! A professor of a university, bereft of everything, was, when I saw him, in diro want of a bed, and another of equal academic standard was wandering haggard over the countryside, searching in vain for a- beloved family. And some of our ranks have been taken as hostages, others have been shot, and their widows and orphans have teen lett deprived ofjeverything. Consider "the mimense suffering that our medical brethren have gone through and are still going through. Their pathetic and lamentable distress should unite all ;n the desire to relieve it. These practitioners have given a. lesson to the world of unfaltering energy, but now thoir breaking courage will have to be kept up. In this emergency I call on the medical profession of England to rally to our help. It will be for us a great debt of honor and of eternal gratitude. [This appeal lias been taken up by an influential London committee, consisting of the presidents of tho Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons and the editors of the 'Lancet' and the 'British Medical Journal.' The fund will allow of drugs, dressings, and surgical requisites being forwarded t> Belgium to enable the medical men there to treat the necessitous cases, and Messrs Burroughs. Welcome, and Co. are supplying all goods at cost price.] Dr Colquhoun. as local treasurer, has already cabled 100 guineas (first instalment) to the London treasurer of the fund.
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BELGIAN DOCTORS AND PHARMACISTS., Evening Star, Issue 15703, 18 January 1915