Wednesday, 7 December 2011


The Dutch occupied the Indonesian islands and ruled Indonesia before the Indonesian independence. They set up schools, including two for training of medical doctors. The medical schools were set up at Batavia and Surabaya on Java island. The first medical school was Sekolah Dokter Djawa or later known as the School Tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Artsen (STOVIA) at Batavia. The second school was Netherland Indies Medical School (NIAS) at Surabaya.

Milestones of Dutch VOC medical schools in Indonesia:
  • In 1851, the first medical school, Sekolah Dokter Djawa, was opened by the VOC in Batavia, Java. It trained 20 Javanese men. Two more men joined later.
  • Dokter Djawa was later renamed STOVIA.
  • In 1912, a second medical school, the Netherland Indies Medical School (NIAS), was opened in Surabaya, Java.
  • Local Indonesian women were allowed to attend the two medical schools (STOVIA and NIAS) after the first Dutch female doctor, Dr Aletta Jacobs, intervened and met with AWF Idenburg, the VOC Governor-General, on 18 April 1912.  She pushed for local women to be allowed to be accepted into Sekolah Dokter Djawa and to be trained as doctors.
  • The first Indonesian woman to graduate from Sekolah Dokter Djawa was Dr Marie E. Thomas (1896-1966). She was born at Likupang, near Manado Minahasa. She was from the Minahasa tribe of Manado. After 10 years of medical studies, she graduated in 1922. She worked as a midwife (bidan; Midwifery is now Obstetrics). She first worked as an assistant obstetrician at Weltevreden on the outskirt of Batavia. 
  • Dr Marie E. Thomas married to Dr Mohamad Yusuf, who was from Solok, Sumatra. He too graduated from Sekolah Dokter Djawa. He worked as a private doctor (ophthalmologist?) in Padang, Sumatra. Dr Mohamad Yusuf's private practice went bad and he was incarcerated at Penjara Struiswijk. He died in 1958.
  • Dr Marie had worked as a Government doctor in Padang till 1931 when her husband was working in Padang.
  • Dr Marie returned to her homeland, where she joined the Dewan Persatoean-Minahasa in 1932. She died in 1966. It is unknown if she had any issue.

External links:

Dokter Djawa


Dr Marie Thomas (1896-1966)

Minahasa, Manado

Overview dan Sejarah Kurikulum Pendidikan Dokter Indonesia
by Dr Masrul, Unand, Indonesia.

Aishah's (medical student) blog on STOVIA (Museum Kebangkitan Bangsa)

Koleksi Sejarah Kesehatan Indonesia

Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
(Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies)
P.O. Box 9515
2300 RA Leiden
The Netherlands
KITLV is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

{We have not yet got anything written about the History of Medicine in Malaysia. It will be great if someone can write on this topic.}