HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN ADANA

It was about 4000 years ago. While the Hittite Empire which had a federal structure was reigning over Anatolia, the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna with borders extending from today's Anamur to the Nur Mountains continued its life as a federal state of this federative empire and its center was the Shark-Komana Antique City around Adana.

Although the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna had no army, they were respected by the Hittite Empire and other federal kingdoms. The reason why they were so respected without having an army was that they were ruled by the priests, who were also healers (doctors) of those times. The drugs which were made from bird and animal flesh or plants, and the spells done by these priests were some of the oldest treatment methods. And 4,000 years ago Adana had become a health center where these treatments were applied. At that time, people from many parts of the world are known to come to Adana for treatment. For example, it is a historically known fact that the Hittite empire Muvattalli came to Adana for treatment. It is also presumed that his son Urhiteşup also came to Adana for treatment.

Being one of the most important health centers 4.000 years ago, Adana retained this role as the first steps of modern medicine were taken.

Accepting the fact that medicine is more than a witchcraft, a branch of science, and curing the patients by gathering them to healing centers which we call hospitals today, begins with Hippocrates.

Hippocrates, who had lived approximately 2500 years ago, is the name that doctors take an oath on prior to starting their medical practice. He had established the first hospitals which are called  Aueskilapion, dedicated in memory of Aeskulap, the God of Health.

These first hospitals are also the first medical schools in the history where medical education is given…

Adana had played a part also in this development of the ancient world. One of the three important Aeuskulapions founded at that time was in the Yumurtalık district of Adana. Although there are not many remains in our history, it is known that the stones that came out of the ruins of the first hospital were used in the construction of other historical remains in Yumurtalık.

One of the legendary stories told about Yumurtalık is that the first "organ transplantation" was carried out in Yumurtalık by the grafting an arm of a white man to a black man.

Actually, there are many medical tales told about Adana. The most known is the Lokman Hekim (physician) Legend.

It is said that he knew the language of plants and flowers; thus found the remedy for immortality. But not accepting the immortality, God sent him a messenger and blew the notes about the remedy over the Misis Bridge on Ceyhan River.

It is not known whether the legends are true, but it is a scientific fact that Çukurova and the Taurus Mountains above, have the richest plant variety of the earth. Therefore, due to the healing richness of the plants, it is possible that the Lokman Hekim tale has been told.

Another scientific fact about the place of Adana in the history of world medicine is that “the oldest medicine-pharmacy book in the world that reached today” is written in the ancient city of Anazarbus in Adana. Its author is the military physician called Dioscorides of Anazarbus. A copy of this book, called Materna Medica, is in Vienna. Another copy, written in the name of Kitab_ül Haşşaşi, is in Topkapı Palace.

This three-volume book describes the diseases, side effects, and dosages of plants, animal flesh and minerals. Some of the medicines described are still being used by the local community for medicinal purposes.

It is worth mentioning the medical history of our city in the recent era while addressing the importance of Adana in the history of medicine. For example, the most asked question is “Which hospital is the oldest one in the city?”

The answer is Memleket Hospital which was founded by a trustee delegation in 1896 and then transferred to the Municipality being named Adana State Hospital. Establishing the hospital, which has been continuing to provide service for more than 100 years, on the riverside was opposed by the idea that the cholera disease (due to the disposal of wastes to the river), which was common in those years, would spread. Dr. Şerafettin Mağnuni tells in his memoirs that when he had visited Adana as a cholera inspector, he had blamed Adana Governor for being so foolish.

The first Turkish pharmacy of our city is Mustafa Gülek Pharmacy which was established in Abidinpaşa Street, the busiest street of that era. Mustafa Gülek, the father of the famous politician Kasım Gülek and the grandfather of former state minister Teyyibe Gülek, had educated many young pharmacists in this pharmacy and had sent hydrophilic cotton to the frontier free of charge during the Battle of Gallipoli.

One of the most important events in the late medical history in Adana should be named as the establishment of the Ortopedia Hospital. Since it is one of the Turkey’s first specialized Orthopedic Hospitals and it serves through orthopedists, each with an academic career specializing in another field (at least in the field of Orthopedics), it would add value to Adana in becoming a health center among Turkey and neighboring countries, again.

In short, as we have seen, the 4000-year-old tradition continues unabated, and our city continues to play its role in the History of Medicine.

In this regard, we are ready to take on the duties of our hospital without hesitation.