Avicenna and National Doctors' Day
Avicenna and National Doctors' Day
Every year, the commemoration of Avicenna and national doctors’ day is celebrated by Iranian academic and scientific centers on the 23rd of August.
A Man of Diverse Knowledge
Avicenna, also known as IbnSina, was a Persian (Iranian) and Muslim physician, astronomer, alchemist, chemist, logician, mathematician, metaphysician, philosopher, physicist, poet, scientist, theologian, and statesman. Avicenna was born around 980 AD in Afshana near Bukhara then a part of Iran and now part of Uzbekistan and died in 1037 AD in the city of Hamadan.Avicenna is regarded as the father of the modern medicine, introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology, added to discovery of contagious diseases. He is also considered as the father of the fundamental concept of momentum in physics.
This Persian genius turned to medicine at the age of 16 and not only learned medical theory, but also due to his gratuitous attendance on the sick, succeeded in discovering new methods of treatment. At the age of 18, this Persian teenager achieved full status of a physician and as he said:“Medicine is no hard and thorny science, like mathematics and metaphysics, so I soon made greatprogress. I became an excellent doctor and began to treat patients, using approved remedies.” The fame of this young physician spread quickly and he treated many patients without asking for payment.
His first appointment was that of physician to the emir who owed him his recovery from a dangerous illness in 997. IbnSina's chief reward for this service was to have access to the royal library of the Samanids, well-known patrons of scholarship and scholars. When the library was destroyed by fire not long after, his enemies accused him of burning it in order to conceal the sources of this knowledge.
When he moved to Shahr-e Rey or the city of Rey, in southern part of the modern Tehran, Avicenna established a busy medical practice. When Rey was besieged, IbnSina fled to Hamadan where he cured Amir ShamsudSawala of colic and was appointed as his prime minister.Having a life full of ups and downs and working hard, Avicenna died when he was only 58 and his body was buried in Hamadan where his grave is still located.
He wrote some 450 books on a wide range of subjects, many of which concentrated on philosophy and medicine. His most famous works are the “Book of Healing” and the “Canon of Medicine”, which was a standard medical text at many Islamic and European universities up until the 18th century. He wrote most of his works in Arabic, since it was the dominant language for centuries following the invasion of Arabs to Iran. However, he also wrote a large manual on philosophical science entitled “Danish-Naame Alai” and a small paper on the pulse in his native language, Persian.
Among Avicenna's 16 medical works, eight are versified treatises on such matter as the 25 signs indicating the fatal termination of illnesses, hygienic precepts, proved remedies, anatomical memoranda etc. Amongst his prose works, after the great Canon, the treatise on cardiac drugs, a large number of fine manuscripts which have remained unpublished, are being kept in the British Museum.
The Canon is the most famous and most important of IbnSina's works. The work contains about one million words and like most Arabic books, is elaborately divided and subdivided into five books, of which the first deals with general principles, the second with simple drugs arranged alphabetically, the third with diseases of particular organs and members of the body from the head to the foot, the fourth with diseases which though local in their inception spread to other parts of the body such as fevers and the fifth with compound medicines.
The Canon points out the importance of dietetics, the influence of climate and environment on health and the surgical use of oral anesthetics. Avicenna advised surgeons to treat cancer in its earliest stages, ensuring the removal of all the diseased tissues. The Canon's material medical considers some 760 drugs with comments on their application and effectiveness. He recommended the testing of a new drug on animals and humans prior to general use. He further noted the close relationship between emotions and the physical condition and discovered that music had a definite physical and psychological effect on patients.
The Arabic text of the Canon was published in Rome in 1593 and was therefore one of the earliest Arabic books to see print. It was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in the 12th century. This Canon with its encyclopedic content, its systematic arrangement and philosophical plan, soon worked its way into a position of pre-eminence in the medical literature of the age displacing the works of Galen, al-Razi and al-Majusi, and becoming the text book for medical education in the schools of Europe. In the last 30 years of the 15th century it passed through 15 Latin editions and one Hebrew. In recent years, a partial translation into English was made. From the 12 to 17 centuries, the Canon served as the chief guide to medical science in the west and is said to have influenced Leonardo da Vinci. As Dr. William Osler has described, the Canon has remained a medical bible for a longer time than any other work.
Despite such glorious tributes to his work, Avicenna is rarely remembered in the western word today and his fundamental contributions to medicine and the European reawaking goes largely unrecognized. However, in Museum of Bukhara, many of his writings, surgical instruments, and paintings of his patients have been put on show. His portrait has been also hanged in the hall of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Paris
Every year the commemoration of this great Persian scientist, philosopher, and doctor is celebrated widely on 23rd of August in Iran among the academic members and activists of medicine sciences all over the country.
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