After Abba Yohannes, the leader of the Ethiopian church, was driven from the country in 849, the first epidemic to be documented in Ethiopia took place. The ensuing plague and famine were seen as God’s retribution for Yohannes’ transgressions. The Ethiopian monarch wrote that “great tribulations have come upon our land, and all of our men are dying of the plague and all of our beasts and cattle have perished” in a frightened letter to Abba Yohannes. It is impossible to determine when medicine first emerged in Ethiopia, but there is little doubt that the development of therapeutic methods closely mirrors the course of a disease. Herbs, spiritual healing, bone-setting, and simple surgical techniques are the main methods used by traditional medical practitioners to treat disease. Traditional medicine in Ethiopia is incredibly complicated and diverse, and it differs widely amongst different ethnic groups. The majority of Ethiopian traditional medical practises adopt a holistic approach to treatment and rely on an explanation of sickness that relies on both the “mystical” and “natural” origins of an ailment. Beginning with the Italians and Russians, many foreign medical envoys had a significant impact on hospital construction, medical education, and vaccination efforts.
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