Scorching heat, lack of clean water for drinking, unhealthy aquifers and the vermin threatened oil service workers. That was why the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) decided to bring in a medical doctor, Morris Young. He had come to Iran in 1907 to look after the original exploration team and had found himself giving medical care to most of the people who lived near the drilling site. From a tent at Masjid-i-Suleiman, he went on to establish a hospital there and another at Abadan.
After graduation from medical school, Dr Young had gone to Scotland to study ophthalmology. But he needed money to finance his studies. Young applied for the job advertised in media by APOC and he was accepted. Before being hired by APOC, Dr Young had lived in Iran in the company of a railroad construction contingent for one year in Lorestan. He had learned Persian very soon and became interested in working in Iran. That was why he had not hesitated to apply for the APOC job offer.
Public Healthcare Services
In his mission in Iran, Dr Young did not merely look after oil service workers. He also provided healthcare services to other patients who were mainly impoverished local residents. Due to his humanitarian services, he was highly respected among locals and chiefs of Bakhtiari tribe.
During his nearly three decades of work in Iran, Dr Young made great contribution to taming diseases in southern Iran. He established a number of healthcare services. That was Dr Young who built the first hospital in Masjid-i-Suleiman, which was the first hospital in oil-rich areas in the Middle East. He went on to build a second hospital in Abadan. Dr Young used to travel on foot in the villages and surrounding areas in order to treat the patients. The presence of such a committed doctor was a big advantage for oil service workers because most Iranians who were practicing medicine in the country at that time were totally unfamiliar with modern medical science.
Most patients who referred to Dr Young suffered from infectious diseases, malaria, small pox, trachoma, and snake and scorpion stings. During seven months since his arrival in Iran he had treated 3,800 patients.
After conducting a test on a sheep eye he learned to operate eye cataract surgery. A Bakhtiari tribal chief was operated for cataract by Dr Young. This successful operation boosted his standing there and he was known as healer of the blind.
During his stay in Iran, Dr Young also operated trachoma and even hypertrophy of tonsils by applying modern methods.
Mideast 1st Oil Hospital
Dr Young built the first oil hospital in the Middle East in Masjid-i-Suleiman in 1914. The architecture of the hospital was modern as it was modeled on hospitals in Western countries. At that time, it was one of the most equipped hospitals in Iran. Reza Shah Pahlavi was hospitalized there in 1924.
Dr Young got retired in 1936 and he immediately returned to England to join the Alexander Fleming group. He spent the last years of his life on contributing to research which led to the discovery of penicillin, the largest breakthrough in medical history.
Dr Young passed away in 1950.
Courtesy of Iran Petroleum Monthly