Semmelweis University commemorated the 204th anniversary of the birth of its eponym, Ignác Semmelweis, with five events on 30 June, the Day of Hungarian Health Care. Following wreath-laying ceremonies at three locations, some 185 university citizens received awards and appointments at a ceremony in the Theoretical Block at Nagyvárad tér. The Semmelweis Day celebrations were rounded off with the premiere of the documentary film On The Frontline for university citizens. The almost an hour-long film shows how Semmelweis University, national leader in the field, fought during the first three waves of the Covid-pandemic.

In the morning, speeches and wreath-laying ceremonies were held in the Semmelweis Medical History Museum, Library and Archives (speech was held by Dr. Nándor Ács, Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology), in the courtyard of the Internal Clinical Block, in front of the Ignác Semmelweis statue (speech was held by Dr. Péter Holló, Director of the Department of Dermatology, Dermatooncology and Venerology).

In the afternoon, in front of the Semmelweis statue at the Szent Rókus Clinical Block, Rector Dr. Béla Merkely spoke about the lessons learned from the pandemic.

“We are here today to celebrate and remember – to pay our respects. We celebrate the health professionals and, on the anniversary of his birth, we remember the eponym of our university, Ignác Semmelweis, who is an example for us in all our acts today. One of the greatest lessons of the coronavirus epidemic was the power of unity. It has been proven in recent times that Semmelweis University is more than the sum of its institutes, clinics and buildings. It is a cohesive, indissoluble community that serves the health and well-being of people and the Hungarian health care system under all circumstances,” Dr. Béla Merkely emphasized.

The rector pointed out that the Szent Rókus Clinical Block has been part of this unit since 1 June 2020. As he said, the integration has been tested in an epidemic situation unprecedented in a century and has performed well under extraordinary circumstances. The Szent Rókus Clinical Block has excelled not only as a COVID provider and PCR-screening station, but also as one of the largest vaccination sites in the university.

Later in the afternoon, in the Theoretical Block at Nagyvárad tér (NET) the rector stressed that Semmelweis University’s greatest asset and value is its human resources, which is why it considers the services of the Family Friendly University Programme and the two recent pay increases in recognition of performance to be important.

Dr. Béla Merkely also spoke about the developments, highlighting recent investments such as the new building of the Faculty of Health Sciences, the energy modernization of the András Pető Faculty building on Kútvölgyi út, the purchase of the Da Vinci Xi robotic surgery device, the complex development of the Városmajor Heart and Vascular Center, the opening of new student-friendly spaces and the fact that the university has moved up 149 places in the international ranking, becoming one of the 300 best higher education institutions in the world.

The rector also pointed out that with the change in the maintenance model on 1 August 2021, “we have put on seven-league boots” and are making even greater strides towards Semmelweis becoming one of the top 100 universities in the world and one of the top 5 medical universities in Europe.


At the ceremony, some 185 members of the University’s staff received their appointments and awards – you can read more about this here.

The closing event of the celebrations was the non-public premiere of the film On The Frontline for the university citizens. The nearly one-hour film shows how Semmelweis University fought during the first three waves of the pandemic.

“The film clearly reflects how Semmelweis Citizens – doctors, staff, support staff, students – joined their forces in this extraordinary situation, with everyone doing their part with sacrifice and maximum commitment. It is a testimony to the strength of our university”, Dr. Béla Merkely said. “It also recalls the time when, at the height of the pandemic wave, the university was caring 700 COVID patients at a time, including 120 infected patients who needed intensive care,” he added.

The film was made by the Directorate of Communication of Semmelweis University. Over the past two years, the crew has made 32 interviews and filmed in the red zones, in compliance with epidemiological regulations. The shooting took place at the sites where the most serious cases were treated, including the Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Pulmonology and the Heart and Vascular Center in Városmajor. 

Dr. Béla Merkely emphasized that with this film the University thanks those who have been on the frontline of patient care and commemorating the five university staff who lost their lives because of Covid.


Pálma Dobozi, Bernadett Bódi

Translation: Rita Kónya, Gábor Kiss

Photo: Attila Kovács, Bálint Barta – Semmelweis University