150 th Anniversary of Alexandre Yersin, the Father of Western Medicine in Vietnam, Remembered

Commentary: Alexandre Yersin is one of a few Frenchmen from the colonial period, who are still honored in Vietnam. He is considered as the father of the Vietnamese Modern Medicine. His work places are preserved and sites for tourists to visit to admire a great man. image

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French scientist Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin is well-known to most Vietnamese people as many main streets nationwide have been named after him.

A view of the house of scientist Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin on Hon Ba Hill in Nha Trang City.

A view of the house of scientist Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin on Hon Ba Hill in Nha Trang City.

He has even been honored in Dalat with a local education establishment named Yersin University in recognition of his contribution to medicinal studies.

However, it was Nha Trang that he chose to undertake his studies. Now, his house on the peak of Hon Ba Hill at 1,600 meters above sea level has become a must-see destination for tourists to Nha Trang City.

Lying on a mountain range stretching over four districts in Khanh Hoa

Province of Khanh Vinh, Khanh Son, Cam Lam and Dien Khanh and about 56 kilometers southwest of Nha Trang City, Hon Ba Hill was chosen by the scientist to organize a center of plantation and breeding of animals of experimentation for the treatment of paludism (malaria).

The area has a mild climate with a biodiversity system and home to many rare kinds of fauna and flora.

From Nha Trang City, tourists go along National Highway 1A heading to Suoi Cat Township then will see a signboard to Hon Ba Hill. The road to the hill is sinuous but visitors will be well treated with cool air, primitive surroundings, tranquility which sometimes is broken by twitters of birds and whispers of winds through leaves.

The tea tree planted by scientist Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin in 1915.

The tea tree planted by scientist Alexandre Emile Jean Yersin in 1915.

During the journey there, tourists will also have a chance to admire splendid streams, primeval forests and many giant rocks in weird shapes. The murmur of the two streams of Da Giang and Dau are considered jungle melodies.

According to old documents from Yersin Nha Trang Museum, the scientist and his co-workers had a tough journey to use horses to carry rocks up to discover and develop the hill.

The wooden two-storey house was built on rock and was reproduced from the original building from 2004 to 2006.

The house now looks very cozy, with a table set for guests, and the small bed where the scientist liked to rest.

Upstairs is a small museum and his office. There is an altar so that anyone visiting there will burn some incense to commemorate the great man.

Other highlights are a near century old tea tree planted by Yersin in 1915 and many vestiges remain on his small rock garden with many medicinal plants, irrigating pipes and growing tools.

Nha Trang is endowed with warm weather all-year round but from 5 p.m. it is very cold on Hon Ba Hill so tourists must bring a jacket and scarf to go there.

A ceremony to mark the 150th birthday and the 70th death anniversary of Alexandre Yersin, the world’s well-known physician and bacteriologist, was held on March 1 in central Khanh Hoa province, where the doctor lived and worked from 1891 until his death.

The statue of Alexandre Yersin in Nha Trang City Photo: Tuoi Tre

The statue of Alexandre Yersin in Nha Trang City Photo: Tuoi Tre

Prominent guests at the event included Andrey Motyl, the Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam and Fabrice Mauriès, the French Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City .

Addressing at the ceremony, Le Xuan Than, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, highlighted Yersin’s life, career and his invaluable scientific contributions to human being as a whole and to Vietnamese people as well.

Born in 1863 in Switzerland and studied medicine in France, Alexandrre Yersin is remembered as the co-discoverer of the bacillus responsible for the bubonic plague and the creator of a vaccine for the prevention and treatment of this disease.

He came to Vietnam in 1891 and chose Nha Trang city for living and working until he passed away on March 1, 1943 .

Yersin was the founder and the first dean of Dong Duong pharmacy school, the predecessor of the present Hanoi Medical University and the Hanoi University of Pharmacy. He was also the founder and head of the Pasteur Institute of Nha Trang.

Source Tuoi Tre & Vietnamnet

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