Saving Lives in Wartime China: How Medical Reformers Built by John R. Watt

By John R. Watt

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Extra info for Saving Lives in Wartime China: How Medical Reformers Built Modern Healthcare Systems Amid War and Epidemics, 1928-1945

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These diseases were aided by the spread of imperialism and its communications systems into China and by the superstitions of local people and authorities that prevented them from responding effectively. 9 New kinds of technical medical capability, themselves the product of an imperialist era, were needed to deal with such contagions. 10 Symptoms of smallpox were described in a fourth century text and a method of inoculation was successfully employed in the early eleventh century. 12 It was these epidemics, plus the widespread incidence of tuberculosis, smallpox and malaria, which galvanized the medical reformers into seeking effective responses.

Dr. Li Tingan (李廷安) pointed out that in Guangzhou notifiable infectious diseases were not reported because many physicians did not realize the need, while many Chinese medicine practitioners did not know the diagnostic terminology of Western medicine. Public nuisances included public cesspools, stagnant water, rats, flies, mosquitoes, waste matter in rivers, defective plumbing, public spitting, dead animals, and human defecation into rivers. The city water supply came from sources contaminated with sewage.

48 And doctors themselves were not oriented to public health concerns such as investigation of housing, drinking water, food, or family customs. 49 To be sure, in June 1925 the Central Epidemic Prevention Bureau made a start on collecting routine information on occurrence of the more important communicable diseases. But China still had no quarantine service, noted Dr. Ludwik Rajchman, the Polish Head of the League of Nations 43 Wu Lien-teh (1918), 132–139. 44 See articles by Dr. Yan on this subject in NMJC, 4, 3 (1918): 81–87; 4, 4 (1918): 140–145; 5, 1 (1919,): 57ff; 6, 2 (1920): 71–92.

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