130th anniversary of Dr. A.Yersin's visit in Nha Trang (July 29, 1891 - July 29, 2021)

A doctor worshipped by local people

Thursday, 29/07/2021, 13:28 [GMT+7]

A doctor worshipped by local people

Doctor Alexandre Yersin first set foot in the coast of Nha Trang City 130 years ago. That visit started the relationship between the French scientist and the land as well as people of Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa for more than half a century together with emotional stories.
 
Stops during sea voyages
 
Doctor Alexandre Yersin was born in September 23, 1863 in Lavaux, Switzerland. At the age of 25, he received his doctorate with a dissertation on tuberculosis. Afterwards, in order to be able to practice medicine in Paris, Yersin applied for and obtained French nationality in 1888.
 
 
Statue of Dr. Yersin erected at Yersin Park (Photo taken in November 2020)
Statue of Dr. Yersin erected at Yersin Park (Photo taken in November 2020)
 
Dr. Yersin left France for Indochina in 1890. With the help of his teacher Louis Pasteur, he was accepted to work at a maritime company as a doctor on Volga ship, travelling on the Saigon-Manila line and Saigon-Hai Phong line afterwards.
 
During its voyages, the ship often made a stop in Nha Trang. Whenever arriving in Nha Trang Bay, Dr. Yersin was impressed by the unspoiled landscape of the land. He set foot for the first time in the coast of Nha Trang on a small boat on July 29, 1891. The charming scenery, coasts, estuaries, islands off the coasts, characteristics of a tropical countryside, etc. left a good impressive on the doctor. He afterwards decided to live, work and spend the rest of his life in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa.
 
Dr. Yersin’s simple living, deep humanity and love for local people have become legends in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa; his great contributions and dedication to science have been honored over the world. Nha Trang people affectionately called him “ong Nam” (Mr. Fifth). His was buried in Nha Trang as he wished. Local people brought his photo to a pagoda and have worshipped him since then.
 
Spreading the spirit of Dr. Yersin
 
According to Dong Luong Son, chairman of Khanh Hoa Province Association of Admirers of Dr. Alexandre Yersin, the doctor owned many special qualities. He was a western scientist and explorer but contributed greatly to the eastern region. He worked for the French colonial government but was loved and respected by the people of the colony. Dr. Yersin's thoughts and actions displayed the spirit of devotion to science and to humanity. He was granted posthumous title of “Honorary citizen of Vietnam”. In order to honor and spread the spirit of Dr. Yersin, for many years, the admirers of Dr. Alexandre Yersin have organized many national and international seminars and talks on his life and career; built a studying promotion fund named after him; established Yersin charity clinic; and organized anniversaries related to the doctor, and so on.
 
There are many constructions relating to Dr. Yersin in Khanh Hoa, such as the cluster of monuments as memorials to the doctor (Yersin Library, Linh Son Pagoda, Yersin's grave), his working house on Hon Ba Mountain, Alexandre Yersin Park, Yersin Street, Xom Com Street (Xom Con is a place in Nha Trang to which Dr. Yersin had a special attachment), Yersin junior high schools in Nha Trang and  Cam Lam District, etc. The admirers of Dr. Yersin hope that a hospital and a medical university will built in honor of the great doctor in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa. 
 
Le Van Hoa, deputy director of Khanh Hoa Provincial Department of Culture and Sports has said, “The existing constructions and monuments partly show the gratitude of the people in Nha Trang - Khanh Hoa towards Dr. Yersin and have contributed to introduce the image of the doctor to domestic and international tourists. In order to help preserve and promote of the monuments relating to Dr. Yersin, the province’s cultural sector erected a commemorative stele with general information about his life and career at Alexandre Yersin Park; renovated the doctor’s working house at Linh Son Pagoda. A road to his grave in Suoi Dau has been planned. The specialized agencies of the department regularly cooperate with related agencies and businesses to take care of, embellish, and introduce nation-level monuments relating A. Yersin to the public.”
 
Alexandre Emile John Yersin (1863 - 1943) was Swiss-born French physician and bacteriologist. He was an excellent student of Louis Pasteur. He discovered the plague bacillus, now called Yersinia pestis, contributing to prepare anti-plague serum. He was the founder of Pasteur Institute Nha Trang, the first director of Hanoi Medical University. He explored Lang Biang Plateau, Hon Ba; introduced rubber trees and quinine trees into Vietnam, etc.
 
Giang Đinh
Translated by H.N