2017, Number 6
Revista Habanera de Ciencias Médicas 2017; 16 (6)
Alpízar CLB, Borges OLC, Grey FX
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ABSTRACTIntroduction: The arrival of coolies to Cuba in the 19th century, hired to carry out plantation labor, involved the arrival of Chinese doctors who were practicing members of the herbalist medicine.
Objective: To characterize the life and work of two Chinese immigrant doctors of the 19th century who became well-known in their epoch because of their human and professional behaviors in the medical practice, even living away from each other in the island.
Material and Methods: A bibliographic review of the periodical publications index-linked in SciELO database, and Google Scholar is presented. Books, journalistic articles, and periodical publications of the epoch that are part of the stock of “José Martí” National Library were reviewed. Basic sources such as Emilio Roig, Chouffat Latour, Delgado García, and Portel Vilá were also consulted.
Development: It was known that the herbalist doctors Siam and Juan Chambombiá could cure sick people who were given up all hope of saving in that epoch, thus becoming well-known doctors; they both showed human qualities of lack of interest, and help to the humbles. The arguments referred to the authorship of the phrase: “Not even the Chinese doctor can save him”, which has remained in the Cuban collection of proverbs, was finally conferred to Juan Chambombiá.
Conclusions: Siam and Chambombiá were characterized by being cultured men, dedicated to the medical profession with unselfishness and humanism. Both of them suffered for persecutions, and lack of understanding; prejudices, and jealousy as a consequence of their success in the treatment to incurable patients. Their traces have remained in Cuba because of their professional and human behaviors.