Adonis Diaries

Rainbow over the Levant (continue 12)

Posted on: October 8, 2008

Health counselor

 Noura Nabatat, another early coastal city insurgent, had extensive practice in herbal remedies and acquired medical knowledge from her father who was the prime health attendant to a powerful warlord.   She counseled Antoun to have hospitals installed in the mansions and great houses of the former Emirs and powerful landlords of the defunct feudal system with the double intentions of precluding any recovery of these properties because of the taboos attached to sick people staying in their homes and also as a grand symbol that the best in the kingdom were for the sick, the poor and down trodden. 

Noura managed by this achievement to circumvent the tendency of the new insurgency leaders who contemplated to get installed in comfortable dwellings recuperated from the noblemen.  She was apprehensive that any requisition of expensive properties for personal use might have raised many eye brows from the citizens; this decision prevented the spread of rumors that status of lordships had been traded and replaced by others less worthy traditionally for leadership and confidence.  

To each major official hospital was attached a reserved spacious room or salon for receiving the families of the sick persons coming from distant places to be near their loved ones and several small dwelling rooms for overnight stay.  The spacious room could be transformed into a wake facility on demand for receiving condolences when a dear one had died.  These civil annexes replaced the inadequate homes of the bereaved families for receiving condolences and thus, only the very rich residencies could match or outdo these large, well maintained and clean annexes

Noura set in motion the idea of dispatching teams of two medicine men accompanied by three soldiers for their safety to visit districts and hold meetings for the neighboring health practitioners. These meetings could last three days with the objectives of collecting data on the recurrence of certain diseases and sharing procedures and cures among their colleagues.  It is doubtful that the rate of mortality decreased substantially but the stubbornness of Noura to proceed with her idea and her initiative to closely monitor the results eventually led to the institution of the first medical school established in the town of Beit-Chabab about 15 kilometers from the seashore.  Although Noura was an herbalist she had extensive knowledge in Arabic medicine and surgical instruments; she brought medical books from renowned Arabic scholars, collected, bought, and transferred from libraries dispersed in the Arab World what was useful.  In the town of Beit-Chabab she instituted an ophthalmology center that attracted people from as far as the Arabic Peninsula, Iran and Egypt.  One of her medical achievement was to secure the Levant with the capability to fabricate state of the art surgical instruments which drawings were mined from ancient manuscripts because the Arabs were the leading surgeons and could perform almost any precision surgery that did not require the use of microscopes not yet invented.

These gatherings of medical men resulted in a list of well qualified professionals who shouldered many administrative duties in the ministry of health. Within seven years, there were about three well managed and funded medical institutions which attracted medical students from all corners of the Arabic world and many visitors came to Mount Lebanon for medical cure, especially the rich and noblemen who turned to be valuable assets in promoting the policies and spirit emanating from this new kingdom.

Noura and Mariam quickly became role models for the new generation of girls because of their successes that exceeded expectation.  The new spirit that grew in the new generations of women engendered many tribulations in society that resulted in gradually offering the female group greater equality with men in matters of rights and opportunities. Needless to say that the female counselors suffered immensely from the animosity of their fellow male counselors and from the ruling class and had to fight their ways courageously.  This hard fight against a patriarchal tradition could not but promote many educated females to come to the rescue and support the projects of Mariam and Noura.  The administrations in the ministries of education and health experienced a high rate of female employees compared to the other ministries.


Not by intention but necessity Antoun formed a reduced cabinet of six official counselors:  ministers for defense, internal security, foreign affairs, agriculture and construction, education, and health and social services.  A census of the kingdom’s resources in manpower and treasures was of paramount importance and scores of educated people who could write were dispatched to communities to collect the necessary data and information. A preliminary census that was not exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination provided a rough estimate of the population.  The county was subdivided into 8 rough districts and census committees were dispatched to meet with the notables of the towns and villages and collect information from available records and recollection on the number of families and average sizes of families and main resources for subsistence.  There were in the Metn County ten thousand families in the average of six persons per family, four major towns of more than 3,000 inhabitants, ten towns of more than 1,500 inhabitants. The concentration was heavier below the altitude of 700 meters with agriculture, cattle, goat and poultry raising and textile the main sources of wealth.

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October 2008

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