UNIVERSITY OF MALTA
Faculty of Medicine and Surgery - Library & Museums Subcommittee
Virtual Medical History Museum
THE HISTORY OF THE MEDICAL TEACHING IN MALTA
Attempts at introducing formal medical education in the Maltese Islands can be dated to the establishment of the first School of Anatomy and Surgery in Malta by Grandmaster Nicholas Cottoner in 1676 and further strengthened by the foundation of the Collegio Medico by Grandmaster Pinto in 1771.
19 October 1676, Grandmaster Nicolo` Cottoner formalized medical
teaching at the Sacra Infermeria by the appointment of Fra Dr. Giuseppe
Zammit as lettore in Anatomy and Surgery, while the School of Anatomy
and Surgery was founded on the 19 December 1676 at the Grandmaster's
expense. Instruction in theoretical anatomy and surgery was given to
the barber-surgeons of the Sacra Infermeria and to all other youths who
aspired to join the surgical profession provided that they could read
and write. Later lectures in the surgical aspects of physiology,
pathology, semiotics, hygiene and therapeutics were added to the
curriculum. By 1682 the course in surgery lasted ten years. A set of
rules governing the teaching of surgery and anatomy were published in
1729 and revised in 1739.
With the occupation of the Islands by the French in 1798, formal University teaching was abolished by General Napoleon Bonaparte by degree published 18th June 1798. A few weeks after the French were forced to leave, Sir Alexander Ball re-instituted the University on 6th November 1800 and medical studies were resumed that same year with the first three doctors qualifying in 1804. During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, only a licentiate was granted to successful candidates. The doctorate was introduced in 1822, this being granted a year after the end of studies. The licentiate was abolished in 1838 after the publication of the 1838 Fundamental Statute of the University of Malta which brought the medical faculty into line with medical schools in England. In 1898-99 permission was granted to medical graduates from Malta to sit for the final examination of the Conjoint Board of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, and for the diploma of the Society of Apothecaries of London. In 1901 the Medical Degree of the Malta University obtained official recognition throughout the British Empire and entitled graduates to be registered in England as Colonial Practitioners. This recognition was suspended after 1977 as a result of a trade-unionistic dispute between the medical profession and the Government. Recognition for temporary registration in the United Kingdom was eventually re-established in 1986.