Cama and Albless women and children's Hospital, Mumbai - a colonial hospital serving since 1886

Cama & Albless Hospital, Mumbai,

Above image: The Cama & Albless Hospital (originally just Cama Hospital), a colonial  hospital built exclusively for women and children in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India with 367 beds; serving since 1886............................

Cama & Albless Hospital, Mumbai

Many architects are of the view that  when it comes to  art deco buildings, after Miami, FL, USA,  Mumbai has the rare distinction of having the second largest number of art deco buildings in the world. Is it nor surprising?  Influenced by  Europeans settled down there  and the colonial rule in the past era, the architecture of the important public buildings  is a blend of   Gothic, Victorian and contemporary styles that give them a distinct appearance. Obviously they stand apart in a locality because of their exotic look and impressive fa├žade. Many buildings, structures and historical monuments in Mumbai stand as  vestiges of of colonial era and are fairly well-preserved. 

Founder, Pestonjee Hormusjee Cama,

Built with  Porbander (Gujarat) stones, the Cama & Albless Hospital  for women and children is an impressive building in the Fort area, Mumbai and the design followed here is that Medieval Gothic.  The foundation stone was laid by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught (Arthur William Patrick Albert; 1 May 1850 – 16 January 1942);  seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  He served as the Governor General of Canada)  on 22 November 1883 and the building  was formally opened to public on 30 July 1886. This hospital was meant to take care of the health problems of both women and children and was first of its kind in this region.

.Cama hospital, Mumbai, maternity

The architect was  Khan Bahadoor Muncherjee Cowasjee Murzban   and the building was named after  Pestonjee Hormusjee Cama, a Parsi  business man and philanthropist who  made  Rs. 100000  available for the construction of the building. In those days, it was a huge sum and only very rich could afford such a huge donation for a public cause. The staffing to run the hospital was provided through the Medical Women for India Fund. 

Unfortunately this historical  hospital was one of the places attacked by the merciless  Pakistani terrorists in 2008 (26/11 attacks) that put the entire country in a state of shock.  The staff at the  famous Cama and Albless Hospital in Mumbai are still getting nightmares  over the  unexpected violence  and bloodletting and trying to come to terms with the carnage and shooting spree  they witnessed on November 26, 2008;  the hospital's thick stone walls resounded with gunshots that continue to haunt some. After the attack more than 100 patients in a state of panic ran away from the hospital. 

It is the only hospital exclusively for women and children in Maharashtra  with an Oncology wing.  Earlier the hospital had 367  beds and now it is a  505 bedded public referral hospital serving the women and children since 1886. It is also a teaching hospital included under the Grant Medical College that includes a few hospitals like J.J. hospital, etc.

This  gothic building 135 years old is one of the oldest structures in Mumbai  and recently in 2019 received Rs.3 crore donation from Tata  Trust to upgrade the hospital facilities and build a museum. The state govt. has sanctioned funds  to restore the old structure that includes fine arched wooden  doors and windows. The main architectural feature is an impressive spiral stairway and teakwood beams, etc. that carry heritage values.  

The proposed museum  will display the history of the hospital, old structures and women doctors who worked here in the past, etc. The museum will focus on pioneering lady doctors, their achievements research work, etc.  This hospital had link  with Dr Annette Benson, a native of England  who also founded the  Association of Medical women in India; and Jerusha Jhirad, who was among the first Indian women physicians, and medical officer in charge of Cama hospital. Hailing from the Bene Israeli Jewish  community, she was the first one to receive scholarship to go abroad for higher studies. In 1966, she was awarded Padmashri by  the Indian Government. 

The Hospital is on the Mahabalika Marg, just across Azad Maidan, Fort, Mumbai.