There have been continuous exchanges between Arab and European medicine since antiquity. In the 19th century, countries in the Arab and Ottoman world called on Western doctors to open modern, Western-style hospitals and dispensaries and to train the local elite. Colonial powers attempted to transpose modern methods that were beginning to bear fruit in Europe to the Arab and Ottoman world: improved hygiene, hospital construction and training of medical staff. Severe epidemics, endemic diseases and infant mortality all needed to be tackled. These efforts were particularly visible in large towns.
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In order to prevent contagion and infant diseases related to inadequate hygiene, doctors and hygienists worked to teach mothers new habits. Manufacturers adapted their products to the new hygiene rules.