Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
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The teaching of obstetrics to aspiring medical students was introduced very early on in the medical curriculum of the Collegio Medico established in the Pubblica Università di Studi Generali established by Grandmaster Pinto de Fonseca in 1771. The first holder of the Chair of Anatomy and Surgery in the Collegio Medico was Michelangelo Grima [1771-1797] who is known to have been proficient in the art of midwifery having at his death a number of obstetric delivery instruments in his holding. In 1778, Dr Saverio Micallef was sent to Paris for three and a half years to study surgery including midwifery. On his return to Malta in 1782, he was appointed Professore delle operazioni chirurgiche e dell'arte ostetricia. Dr Micallef in 1786 is known to have taught obstetrics on a model similar to that of the School of Cosmos in Paris. During 1786 to 1798, Dr Micallef was further employed as “primo pratico” or “chirurgo principale” in the Sacra Infermeria and “chirurgo ordinario” in the Casette delle Donne. The next known appointee to the post of teacher in obstetrics and midwifery was Dr Francesco Buttigieg, appointed to the post in March 1802, soon after the re-establishment of the Collegium Medicum in 1800 by Sir Alexander Ball. Dr Buttigieg retained his post of Teacher in Midwifery at the Female Civil Hospital until his retirement in 1823. His post was subsequently filled by Dr Michele Borg. The Chair of Midwifery was formally established within the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery in 1833, the first occupant being Prof. Agostino Bonnici (1833-34). At this time the teaching of obstetrics appears to have been purely theoretical. The subsequent incumbent to the post, Prof. Saverio Arpa (1835-58), attempted to remedy the deficiency and introduce the clinical aspect of teaching obstetrics to medical students. There has since been a progressive attempt to upgrade and make more comprehensive the teaching of obstetrics and gynaecology to medical students in accordance with the needs and skills required by practicing physicians and demanded by the ethos of the contemporary obstetric practice in the community.