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Taiwan’s Medical Education and Doctors’ Training during the Japanese Colonial Period

During the Qing Dynasty, before the Western medical system was established, traditional Chinese doctors were seen as the second level in the social hierarchy. After the modern systematic medical education was founded by the Japanese colonial government, doctors gained a high position in Taiwanese society. In fact, the cultivation of doctors during the colonial period reflected the transformation of the Taiwanese doctor’s social status. Using precious archives, this article introduces the establishment of Taiwan’s medical education and training system.

Bubonic Plague, Cholera and Influenza in the History of Communicable Diseases in Taiwan(1895-1920)
Bubonic Plague, Cholera and Influenza in the History of Communicable Diseases in Taiwan(1895-1920)

Author: Ou Yi-han |Staff member at the Archives of the Institute of Taiwan History
Photo: Archives of the Institute of Taiwan History

From 1895 to 1920, Taiwan faced large-scale outbreaks of communicable diseases such as bubonic plague, cholera, influenza, malaria, and smallpox. In particular, the bubonic plague epidemic was closely related to the development of public health in Taiwan. In the 1920s, American scholar Charles E. A. Winslow defined public health as the “science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical and mental health and well-being.” Through organized efforts of society and engagement in environmental sanitation, personal hygiene education and provision of medical care, the spread of diseases can be properly prevented and treated, the standard of living of every member of society can be ensured and enhanced, thus realizing the goals of national health and quality longevity.

Herein, the natural conditions and social customs of Taiwan prior to the establishment of the public health system are first introduced. The process of how health policies and medical administration were institutionalized by the colonial government in response to outbreaks of communicable diseases is then described. Finally, outbreaks of bubonic plague, cholera and influenza in Japanese colonial Taiwan are presented along with the government’s response and the public’s perception of the epidemic. As of 16:00 on October 30, 2021, the number of COVID-19 cases has reached 45 million with the death toll reaching 1.18 million. From the past to the present, the battle against germs and infections has been unending.

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