HARWARD BRUCE OSTLER The Founder of Yemeni American Medical Relationship to Serve The Ostracized [Archives:1999/44/Health]
First of two parts
Dr. Yasin Al-Qubati,
Director of the National Leprosy Elimination Programme
Skin & Venereal Diseases Hospital, Taiz
Prof. (Dr.) Harward Bruce Ostler was born on 6th June 1927 in Eureka. Bruce was the youngest of five sons in the family. Just after two years, on 29th October 1929, the New York stock market crashed in what so called ‘The Black Tuesday’. The United States faced a very miserable time. This period was called “Great Depression”. During this miserable situation, Bruce’s parents got divorced.
Bruce took all the science classes at high school. Then, he went for navy training in San Diego, California. After this, he got his BA degree at the University of Utah. Then, he entered medicine and graduated after three years. Then, he got his master degree. At that time, Bruce was just twenty five years old. Bruce had an internship for one year at the University of Iowa, a residency for three years and a six month period for research there. Finally, Bruce had achieved his cherished ambition! He became a fully qualified ophthalmologist.
During the time of his study Bruce met a young lady called Marian and it did not take them a long time to get married. Marian was a wise and a virtuous wife. She had been his beloved, wife, and secretary.
Bruce pursued his career as an ophthalmologist for ten years. At the same time he was teaching at the medical school of the University of Utah. He held different posts for eighteen years, the last one being the Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology in the University of California.
He had to his credit ninety-nine publications in different medical journals. When one of his books “Disease of the External Eye and Adnexa” was released, the American Journal of Ophthalmology highly appreciated and recommend his work.
Within a few years, Professor Bruce became the president of Proctor Foundation for Ophthalmology. He never smoked, drank alcohol or took to any stimulant like tea, coffee or cola.
He was well known all around the country. Patients were heading for him from different states, and ophthalmologists were coming to him for training from different parts of the world like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Germany, Canada etc. Over the years he supervised approximately 130 research fellows at the Proctor Foundation.
He traveled to many poor and developing countries like Somalia, India, Nepal, China, the Philippines, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Peru and Yemen.
In summer 1982, I met Bruce in Mogadishu where we where attending the Leprosy Strategy Conference of WHO, Eastern Mediterranean Region. I believed that he could help the patients in Yemen. After a small chat, we planned for his first visit to the City of Light hospital which was the only organized leprosorium run by Mother Teresa.
When Bruce along with his wife reached Sana’a, a very honorable reception was given by the Protocol of the President. Dr. Noordeen, the then Director of WHO, Geneva who was the chief guest at the Mogadishu conference, also was on a visit to the Noor City for one week. After this visit all of them collaborated and published an article about leprosy situation in Yemen in the Leprosy Review International Journal. This article drew the attention of the international non-governmental organizations to the problem of leprosy in Yemen.
More than fifty operations were conducted at the Al-Noor City. Some major operations were conducted in different general hospitals in Taiz city. Junior ophthalmologists seized the opportunity to benefit from the extraordinary genius of Bruce.
It was a surprise for the people of the Al-Noor City that an American refused to have coffee, tea, cola or any other stimulants but readily accepted the invitations to lunch in the houses of the patients. To be continued on Next Week’s Issue.