Western Medicine for Chinese

How the Hong Kong College of Medicine Achieved a Breakthrough


Faith C. S. Ho

ISBN : 978-988-8390-94-6

Medicine, Health Sciences, Public Health

October 2017

244 pages, 6″ x 9″, 25 b&w illus.; 6 tables

  • HK$360.00

The founders of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (HKCM) had the lofty vision of helping to bring Western science and medicine to China, which, they hoped, would contribute to the larger objective of modernizing the nation. That this latter goal was partly realized through the non-medical efforts of its first and most famous graduate, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, is a well-known story. Faith C. S. Ho’s Western Medicine for Chinese brings the focus back to the primary mission of HKCM by analyzing its role in the transfer of medical knowledge and practices across cultures. It offers a detailed account of how the pioneering staff of the college and the fifty-nine graduates besides Dr. Sun overcame significant obstacles to enable Western medicine to gain wider acceptance among Chinese and to facilitate the establishment of such services by the Hong Kong government. Some of these Chinese doctors went on to practise medicine in China, but arguably the college had made the most lasting impact on Hong Kong. Ho observes that the timing of the founding (1887) and the closing (1915) of the college could not have been more strategic. The late nineteenth-century beginning allowed enough time for HKCM to lay a solid foundation for medical training in the city. Later, the college was ready to play a pivotal role in the establishment of the University of Hong Kong, which had important implications for subsequent social developments in the city.

Faith C. S. Ho is formerly a professor and head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Hong Kong. Her present interests are in museums and in the history of medicine in Hong Kong.

‘Faith Ho’s concise yet comprehensive study of the Hong Kong College of Medicine examines the people and personalities who created and sustained this remarkable institution. It is as much about medicine as it is about colonialism and Hong Kong itself.’ —John M. Carroll, University of Hong Kong

‘This is a meticulously researched and comprehensive account of the history of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. Those seeking information of Western medicine in the early years of Hong Kong need look no further for surely there is no better document than this.’ —Sir David Todd, Founding President, Hong Kong Academy of Medicine

‘It is a valuable history of one of Hong Kong’s most important educational institutions. It provides also a commentary on the cultural exchange between Western values and methods and those of the Chinese in that fundamental area of human concern—medicine.’ —W. John Morgan, University of Nottingham and Cardiff University