The border of the Ottoman Empire outstretched across three continents and extended over different climatic zones. The distinct disorders that people suffered depended on the difference in the geographical distribution. Therefore, their medical systems varied greatly from area to area and hinged on to the culture and scientific research.
Medicine in the Ottoman Empire can trace its roots back to the Greeks and such famous physicians as Hippocrates, Galen and Discoride.
Many different systems of medicine were rehearsed in different region. They were the religious medicine called “prophetic medicine”, the “mechanistic humoral medicine” which was inherited from Greek antiquity. Another very distinct therapeutic method includes the “music therapy” to treat various typed of psychological illnesses.
The historical “darüşşifa” (hospital in Turkish) in Sultan Beyazid II Social Complex in the northwestern province Edirne was famous for alternative treatment methods from the 15th to 19th centuries. Alongside water, sound and scent therapies, Ottoman physicians used music to treat their patients.
The Ottoman Empire has shown us how their societies exhibited the contemporary approach to illness and disease. Their hospitals demonstrate the early modern period in the field of medicine. They built several hospitals dedicated solely for the poor, women, children, and mentally challenged individuals of their territory.
The Ottoman government initiated several reforms in the medical services and articulated it to the new public sanitation regulations.
During the Balkan war (1912-1913) infectious diseases such as cholera, smallpox, and typhus caused massive suffering and deaths among its soldiers. The army died of these deadly infections rather than the bullets.
So, the ministries of war and health worked together to publish an instructional manual, listing precautionary measures and sanitary guidelines to educate the public about the transmission and dangers of typhus.
Apart from the health policies the X-ray was also added to Ottoman medicine by Esad Feyzi. A year later he installed a Roentgen device in Istanbul and took x ray of the wounded soldiers to check the embedded bullets.
European travellers reported the high level of hygiene in the Ottoman world. Ottoman medicine in the mid-nineteenth century also developed institutions for preventative medicine and public health.
Photo Source: Ottoman Imperial Archive