Andrew Davidson was a pioneer medical missionary to Madagascar. Born in Kincardineshire, Scotland, he studied medicine and graduated from the University of Edinburgh before completing postgraduate studies in Brussels. He was a member of the Free Church of Scotland and joined the London Missionary Society (LMS), which appointed him to Madagascar. He arrived at Antananarivo with his wife in August 1862 and served at the mission dispensary in the center of the city while working toward establishing a mission hospital. The hospital-the first medical facility of its kind in Madagascar-opened in July 1865, and he became its first director. He was also responsible for training the first native physicians, midwives and nurses. Two of his most famous students were Andrianaly and Rajaonah, the first Malagasy doctors to graduate from a European university (Edinburgh). After a furlough in Britain in 1866, he resumed his work at the hospital but severed his connection with the LMS in 1868. He remained in the country, conducting a medical mission supported by Scottish benefactors. Disagreement with the Malagasy prime minister caused him to leave the country in November 1876, and he stayed in Mauritius for some time.
In 1898, after his final return to Scotland, Davidson was appointed professor on the medical faculty at the University of Edinburgh as a specialist in oriental diseases. He wrote many pamphlets in English and Malagasy, mostly on medical matters but also on native customs.
Yvette Ranjeva Rabetafika
Short biographies of Davidson appear in Régis Rajemisa Raolison, Dictionnaire historique et géographique de Madagascar (1966), and John Owen Whitehouse, Register of Missionaries Deputations…, 1796-1896 (1896). Passages relating to the medical mission and to the social context appear in the Mervyn Brown, Madagascar Rediscovered (1978) and James Sibree, Fifty Years in Madagascar (1924).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.