Ferenc Kumin, Hungary’s Ambassador in London, unveiled the first Ignác Semmelweis statue in the United Kingdom at the Queen Mary University of London on Wednesday.
Professor Márta Korbonits, Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal of the university respectively, and Professor László Rosivall from Semmelweis Medical University, Budapest also attended the ceremony, daily Magyar Nemzet reported.
László Rosivall, chairman of the Semmelweis Memorial Committee, said that there are now 24 statues around the world commemorating Semmelweis and his seemingly simple, yet life-saving discovery.
Fact Ignác Semmelweis
(1 July 1818 – 13 August 1865) was a Hungarian physician and scientist, who was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the “savior of mothers,” he discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever – that was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal – could be drastically reduced by requiring hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics. He proposed the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards.
“Today, with hand sanitizers in virtually every shop since the Covid epidemic, it is almost unbelievable that in the mid-1800s, even medical experts did not accept Ignác Semmelweis’ claim that washing hands with chlorine water in maternity wards could significantly reduce the risk of puerperal fever,” Magyar Nemzet writes. “Gentlemen cannot get their hands dirty – and doctors are gentlemen, was one of the not very scientific counter-arguments. Although Semmelweis himself had successfully used this early method of hand disinfection in his own hospital, it was not until much later that the world took notice of his discovery,” the newspaper recalled.
Featured photo via Facebook/Embassy of Hungary in London