The Navy is the first of the armed forces to provide itself with a legal and well-defined Health Service, Its honourable status dates from the Seventeenth Century, from the time of Louis XIV and Colbert. From this time onwards, naval physicians are going to sail on the oceans, landing on the shores of all countries, sometimes residing there to give humanitarian aid or to be occupied in civilizing missions, according to the terms used at that time. The history of the Naval Health Service occurs during the last three centuries.

There are many physicians who, besides participating in these royal missions, explore meticulously these far-away and completely unknown lands, bringing back an incalculable number of objects of great scientific value and plants which lead to the creation of botanical gardens in the three big ports.

Naval physicians are present in the nineteenth century at the time of colonial expansion. This naval health service gives birth to the Health Service of Naval Troops, whose missions are directed towards the care of sailors on land and of native populations, until then deprived of health facilities. In the course of these voyages and these stopovers, everybody contributes to the description and comprehension of the different aspects of tropical pathology.