In the 19th century, diseases such as dysentery, malaria, typhus, and trachoma were rampant in the Land of Israel, then a backward and neglected part of the Ottoman Empire. To provide health services for the Jewish population of the Old City of Jerusalem, a number of clinics, set up by European Jewish communities, extended free medicalservices for those unable to pay and were famous for their dedicated care under difficult circumstances.
These clinics expanded to become hospitals: Bikur Holim (est. 1843), Misgav Ladach (est. 1888), and Shaare Zedek (est. 1902), all of which still function today, offering up-to-date services with modern medical technology. The Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem, with schools of medicine, nursing, and pharmacology, and two modern hospitals, traces its beginning to two nurses who were sent to Jerusalem in 1913 by the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America.