The foundations of the Military Medical Academy were laid on December 1st, 1891 when order N 439 of the Minister of Defence came into effect, and the General Garrison Hospital in Sofia was set up. By order 436, issued on November 5th, 1891 Gueorgi Zolotovich (MD at the Military School) was appointed head of the Garrison Hospital in Sofia, and medical doctor Ivanov - his deputy.
On January 1st 1893 the General Garrison Hospital in Sofia was renamed First Divisional Hospital in Sofia; it had 100 beds for soldiers and 10 beds for officers available. It functioned up to the end of 1918. Sanitary major Luidji Pontara, of Austrian origin, was appointed head of the newly set-up hospital.
The article "A few words on our military hospitals" by the sanitary major Ignat Barbar, published in 1893, was one of the first documents, which helps us estimate the initial stages of the development of the military medical aid in our country. It treats important issues, related to the opening and functioning of these new military medical institutions, such as their housing in appropriate buildings, the necessary rules and regulations governing their internal organization, the period for medical treatment, the establishment of hospital libraries, the supply of disinfecting apparatuses in each hospital, etc. In his article Dr. Barber recommends that the divisional hospital be "a model in any respect". The perfect implementation of all assigned tasks has been a recurring idea throughout the hospital's history. The people, who have contributed to making the idea come true are military ranks working there, and the heads at the initial stages of its development - the Renaissance medical doctors and sanitary officers L. Pontara, J. Lyubenov, P. Dimitrov, D. Kiranov, I. Batzarov, T. Iliev, T. Popov.
In accordance with the "Regulation for the sanitary service in the armed forces in peacetime" (1900), the number of beds in the divisional hospitals was increased, and as a result First Divisional Hospital in Sofia already had 200 beds available. One of the military hospital's basic missions was formulated then: to take care of military men's health in peacetime and wartime conditions. It was during this period that the Bulgarian military medical men for the first time took part in a humanitarian mission under the guidance of D. Kiranov, MD in the Russian-Japanese war.
During the Balkan War of 1912-1913, First Divisional Hospital in Sofia functioned as branch of the Distribution Hospital in Sofia. It included 18 doctors, 8 students in medicine, 57 nurses. During the war the Austrian sanitary mission, the aim of which was to help the Bulgarian military hospital by providing medical doctors and nurses, was housed in the new premises of Sofia First Divisional Hospital. At that time Dr. Assen Petrov, one of the founders of contemporary medical science in Bulgaria, was head of the hospital.
After the World War I was declared, the hospital’s entire personnel took part in servicing the army’s troops. During World War I head of the 6th local military hospital in Sofia (situated in the premises of Sofia First Divisional Hospital) was Ivan Karamihaylov, MD. The Austrian sanitary mission, which had arrived again in 1915, supplied the military hospital with consumables and materials, tools, sterilisation equipment, X-rays, water beds, electromechanical apparatuses, which improved the quality of medical care.
- General Army Military (and Divisional) Hospital in Sofia;
- First-rate military hospitals with sanatoria for disabled soldiers with 20 beds available;
- Second-rate military hospitals with sanatoria for disabled people;
- Garrison hospitals.
After the new peacetime staff became effective, Dr. Racho Angelov, division doctor of First Sofia Infantry Division, was appointed head of the General Army Military Hospital.
In 1919 Dr. Racho Angelov together with the Public Health Director, Dr. Ivan Kessyakov and the deputy head of the military sanitary unit of the armed forces lieutenant-colonel Todor Popov, MD, participated in drawing up a project for temporary utilization of the state hospital institutions, including the General Army Military Hospital, to meet the needs of the newly established Medical Faculty in Sofia.
During the period 1924-1934, the heads of the hospital were Col. Dr D. Gerganov and Cap. Dr. E. Guekov. To meet the demands of the army’s sanitary service, a training school for sanitary sergeants at the General Army Military Hospital was opened on the July 1st 1930.
In the early 1930’s the military medical doctors in our country, and those from the General Army Military Hospital in particular, focused their attention on the problems, concerning the army’s peacetime morbidity rate. It was in 1932 that the first categorization of the occupational diseases in the armed forces was made.
During the period 1936-1945, the heads of the hospital were: Lt. Col. Dr. Stephan Daskalov, Lt. Col. Dr. Ludvig Stribarny, Col. Dr. Ivan Shtarbanov.
In accordance with the army’s and military institutions’ peacetime staff, the following military medical institutions were established in 1938: General Army Hospital with Training School for Sanitary Sergeants subordinate to the military sanitary unit; two first-rate divisional hospitals in Plovdiv and Shoumen, five second-rate military divisional hospitals in Sliven, Rousse, Vratza, Dupnitza and Haskovo, and a garrison medical public health station in Pleven.
In 1941, a serious problem in the armed forces related to the blood transfusion in the military hospitals was resolved. Capitan Dr Vladimir Kojuharov was appointed to organize the blood transfusion in the All-Army Hospital in Sofia.
During the first period of World War II no significant changes were effected in the General Army Hospital. From the personnel of the latte a third army surgical hospital was set up to meet the frontal needs; its head was lieutenant-colonel Matei Ivanov, MD. During the second period of the war two more surgical hospitals – in Sigetvar and in Mohach grew out of the hospital’s staff. After the end of the war and the First Bulgarian Army’s demobilization, colonel Vesselin Nicolov was appointed head of the hospital from April 1945 to January 1946, succeeded by Col. Dr. Avgust Milchev (1946-1950) and Col. Dr. Ivan Ivanov (1950).
In 1946 a new medical institution for military ranks was established in Sofia. The latter was a General Army Polyclinic with head colonel Rayko Radevsky, MD. Initially the polyclinic was an independent facility. Since July 1950 the hospital and the polyclinic were united into a General Army Hospital with polyclinic.
During the period 1951-1960 heads of the military hospital were Col. Dr. Kostadin Stoyanov, Col. Dr Lyuben Angelov, Col. Dr. Marin Katov, Col. Dr. Boris Angelov.
In 1954 a Research Military Medical Institute was established (on the basis of the existing since 1945 General Army Hygiene Institute in Ovcha Kupel). As specialized institute at the Bulgarian army, it was assigned the functions to develop the different aspects of the medical protection of the army and the population.
On August 12th 1960 by government decree No 196, the Higher Military Medical Institute (HMMI) was established, which included the Research Military Medical Institute, the General Army Hospital, and the Department for military medical training at the Medical Department at the Ministry of Defence.
Together with the medical activity, HMMI’s structure provided better opportunities for improving the qualification of the medical officers in the military medical specialties and training of the medical staff to meet the army’s needs; it also provided for research, related to the peacetime and wartime medical support of the army.
In the period 1960-1988, heads of HMMI were major-general professor Gencho Krastinov, major-general academician Atanass Maleev, major-general associate professor Ivan Hariev, major-general Vassil Gerganov, major-general professor Nikolay Kupenov, colonel professor Jovcho Topalov.
At the establishment of the HMMI in 1960 and the construction of the new premises in 1980, a lot of structural changes and improvements in the military healthcare took effect; these raised the level of HMMI, and it became one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country.
Decree No 546 of April 7th 1989, by which a Military Medical Academy was established, was indicative of the reputation and acknowledgement of HMMI’s activities. The newly established Academy was a unified medical, training and research institution, the task of which was to promote military healthcare, training, specialization and qualification of military medical staff and develop military medical science. The Academy’s constituent units then were: HMMI, Ist Clinical Base “Dr K. Havesov” (Governmental Hospital), the Naval Hospital in Varna and the United Air Force Medical Research Institute in Sofia. Thus the Academy combined medical support, research and training, dealing not only with problems of the Army, but also those of the Navy and the Air Force.
In the period 1988–2003 heads of the Military Medical Academy were the following officers: Major-General Prof. Yovcho Topalov, Major-General Prof. Grigor Mechkov, Major-General Assoc. Prof. Nikola Alexandrov, Col. Prof. Milan Petrov, Brigadier General Assoc. Prof. Roumen Zlatev.
Head of the Military Medical Academy today is Brigadier General Assoc. Prof. Stoyan Tonev.
Together with the basic changes in our society, the Military Medical Academy (MMA) was also being restructured to comply with world and NATO standards. Today it unites another four hospital bases for active treatment in Plovdiv, Varna, Pleven, Sliven, three hospital bases for rehabilitation in Bankya, Hissar and Pomorie, and the Center for Military Medical Expertise and Aviation Medicine, the Research Institute for Radiological, Biological and Chemical Protection, the Center for Military Epidemiology and Hygiene in Sofia, with branches in Plovdiv, Sliven and Varna.
The specific tasks of MMA related to the maintenance of readiness for wartime healthcare operations define its significant role in the system of national security through developing concepts and strategies of action in crisis situations caused by disasters, accidents and terrorist acts.
During the hole period of hospital existence, the specialists of MMA has taken part in peacekeeping operations in different parts of the world: Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Algeria, Syria, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Angola, Ethiopia, Libya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Turkey, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
The Military Medical Academy is accredited as a medical and educational establishment according to the Medical Establishments Law and Higher Education Law.
Independantly of the contemporary era chocks, MMA keeps on its traditions in good medical practice, improving staff qualification and encouraging research for development of the medical science. The on-going healthcare reform and the contracts signed with the Health Insurance Fund make possible the access of civilians to MMA. Established before more than a century for the Sofia Garrison’s needs only, today Military Medical Academy is open for everyone.