History fact: The first birth clinic in Thailand was founded by Danish Johanne Christensen

The birth clinic which was established by Johanne Christensen. Photo curtesy: Peder M. Joergensen

Did you know that a Danish woman founded one of the first birth clinics in Thailand? Her name was Johanne Christensen and as the Embassy of Denmark in Bangkok shines a light on the strong and long-running historical ties between Denmark and Thailand, these interesting facts are highlighted.

The Embassy shares:

Johanne Christensen was born in Denmark in 1888. She became a trained nurse in 1907 and traveled to New York, where she met a doctor who worked with the Presbyterian Church in Siam.

In 1911, she traveled to Siam where she worked at a missionary station in Trang province for the next 11 years. It was, however, in Bangkok that Johanne Christensen found her calling for life. In 1922, she was granted permission to establish one of the first birth clinics in Bangkok. At her clinic, Johanne helped deliver hundreds of Thai children and she educated a whole generation of Thai nurses and midwives over the years.

Johanne Christensen worked with exceptional skill and dedication, and during all those years, only one single mother died in labor at her institution. A result, which was unheard of at that time. Eventually, the clinic became too small and Johanne started making plans for a new and larger hospital. Unfortunately, she fell seriously ill before her plans could be carried out and she passed away in November 1939.

A proposal was tabled to name the new hospital “Johanne Christensen’s Memorial Hospital” but with the outbreak of World War II, the hospital plans had to be canceled. Instead, Johanne’s dedicated staff continued the work at her clinic.

After the war, the Presbyterian Church in Thailand bought another plot of land between Silom and Suriwongse. Johanne Christensen’s clinic was consequently moved here and in the beginning, this was the only medical facility of the new Bangkok Christian Hospital. However, when the new hospital was officially opened in 1949 it was not given her name and today she is remembered only by a few.

Nonetheless, Johanne’s important work in Thailand, not only helped Thai society at the time, but also shaped the strong Thai-Danish collaboration within the healthcare sector, which exists today.

𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘗𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘔. 𝘑ø𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘵𝘰𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘴, the Embassy states.

 

Johanne Christensen. Photo curtesy: Peder M. Joergensen
Johanne’s clinic was initially the only medical facility of the new Bangkok Christian Hospital. Photo curtesy: Peder M. Joergensen

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

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