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Special Collections – Selects of Invasion of Taiwan in 1895
Since 16th century, Taiwan has been an important stronghold in a process of competition between western and eastern empire. A develop of Taiwan history interacts with China and world history. In 1894, because of Joseon problems, Qing dynasty and Japan broke out a war, which put Taiwan into a tempestuous and changeful historical trend. When the time went into 1895, several battles happened in our country and familiar locations due to Japanese invasion of Taiwan. Until the Qing Dragon Flag flew away to the Island of Formosa be covered with the Sun flag, people of the Island of Formosa finally became new subjects, who went through double baptism with colonialism and modernization in 50 years.
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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