Online Talk - Extreme Weakness: Beriberi and the Politics of Public Health in Pre-WWII Hong Kong

Activity: Conference/talk/lecture/symposium/speech/workshop, etcEvent organized by non-HKBU units


Beriberi was prevalent in Hong Kong from the 1880s to the 1930s. It was part of a mystery that clouded colonial administrators in many ports and cities in Southeast Asia. It was a common concern for the Far Eastern Association for Tropical Medicine. It attracted many medical researchers in the region to investigate the pathology and identify appropriate remedies. But when malnutrition was identified as its root cause, the Hong Kong government did not introduce any effective public health measures to tackle it. It was only after Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke had become the Director of Medical Services in 1937, the Hong Kong government started the work of the Nutrition Research Committee and paid attention to the issues of malnutrition among the general public and the war refugees. Through these stories, I would like to discuss the momentum for medical discovery and the changing notions of public health in Hong Kong.
Period12 May 2022
Held atRoyal Asiatic Society Hong Kong