Health care and hospitals in Medieval Islamic world

The first „bimaristan” was founded in the late ninth century, by leading physician and polymath Muhammad Ibn Zakarya al-Razi, in the city of Baghdad. „Bimaristan” is a word of Persian origins, meaning „hospital”. The Baghdadian bimaristan was staffed with twenty five doctors, optometrists, surgeons and bonesetters. For a deeper understanding of how health care services were provided inside Medieval Islamic settlements, let’s check a policy statement of the bimaristan of al-Mansur Qalawun in Cairo, c.1284 CE: „The hospitals shall keep all patients, men and women, until they are completely recovered. All costs are to be borne by the hospital, whether the people come from far or near, whether they are residents or foreigners, strong or weak, low or high, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, blind or signed, physically or mentally ill, learned or illiterate. There are no conditions of consideration and payment; none is objected to or even indirectly hinted at for non-payment. The entire service is through the magnificence of God, the generous One”.

An impressive example of bimaristan inside the Islamic world is „The Nur al-Din Bimaristan”, a hospital and medical school in Damascus, founded in the 12th century. Today the building is the Museum of Medicine and Science in the Arab world.