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Origin and background

EMMS International is a Christian international healthcare charity founded in 1841. EMMS International works with partners in India, Malawi and Nepal to improve health and healthcare, and facilitates respite for people in Scotland with serious illnesses.

How EMMS International began

In 1841, a group of doctors formed the Edinburgh Association for Sending Medical Aid to Foreign Countries to “circulate information on medical mission; help other institutions engaged in the same work and assist as many Missionary stations as their funds would permit.”

The name was changed in 1843 to The Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society – a name which lasted until 2002 when it was split into two separate Charities - EMMS International and The Nazareth Trust.

EMMS International and Dr David Livingstone

It is our great privilege to count Dr David Livingstone among our earliest members. 

On 4 March 1858, the General Committee of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society unanimously resolved to add Dr David Livingstone’s name to the list of Corresponding Members of the Society. 

Even then, David Livingstone was an inspiration to the organisation. At a breakfast meeting arranged in his honour the Scottish explorer and medical missionary shared of his travels and medical endeavours among the African population. The minutes record the event as “a notable occasion in our history - bringing before us a real medical missionary - a true man raised by Providence for a great purpose.”

This relationship with Livingstone continued until his death, in Africa, in 1873. Dr Livingstone continues to be an inspiration to EMMS International. We continue in the footsteps of Livingstone, and those like him, who sought to bring improvements in healthcare along with Christian compassion to some of the world’s poorest communities.