The Healing Ministry: Protestant Christianity and the History of Medical Care in Colonial Hong Kong, 1842-1997

Project: Research project

Project Details


This research adopts an archival approach to the study of the history of medical mission in Hong Kong during the colonial era. Medical mission was a significant aspect in the history of Christian missions in China because it was effective in winning converts and it was a starting point in other modernity projects by missionaries. In Hong Kong history, missionaries made a more direct contribution in these regards. The colonial government of Hong Kong endorsed medical qualifications from Britain. British missionaries commanded instant respect from the government upon which they launched new initiatives. The partnership with the community was a much less irksome journey as compared with their counterparts in China. Hong Kong thus had the largest number of mission hospitals as compared with any other Chinese cities. During the colonial rule, these include Benjamin Hobson’s initiatives in the 1840s, the hospital idea from William Young and John Edge in 1881, the Alice Memorial Hospital in 1887, the Nethersole Hospital in 1893, the Alice Memorial Maternity Hospital in 1904, and the Ho Miu Ling Hospital in 1906. In 1954, the creation of the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital was to merge these hospitals into one. There were other major Christian medical projects in postwar Hong Kong, including the Junk Bay Medical Relief Council in 1953 (ended in 1986), the Haven of Hope Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1955, the Baptist Clinic during the 1950s (upgraded to a hospital in 1963), the Evangel Hospital in 1965, and the United Christian Hospital in 1973. After the founding of the Hospital Authority in 1990, the Christian tradition has been preserved and promoted among hospitals with similar backgrounds.

Apart from an account of medical missions during the colonial period, this research examines the historical significance of missionary doctors and nurses (and leading Chinese Christian doctors and nurses) in Hong Kong. In doing so, this reveals several salient features that defined their belief and practice in holistic healing. Such an approach echoes well with several current research themes in the field of medical history in modern China, such as power, gender, and community recognition. Specifically, this project explores the historical processes behind the making of a power relationship of “missionary-convert” and “doctor/nurse-patient,” the successes and failures of local partnerships that missionary doctors/nurses established, and the relative importance of Protestant Christian medical missions in the entire sector of medical institutions from the historical perspective.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/01/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.