Public Health and Infectious Diseases (1842-1970)

Yuen Han Law (Contributor)

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Over the past two decades, several studies have provided a historical survey of public health in Hong Kong, including a collection of primary sources from various historical archives. A relevant angle that one could benefit from drawing the lessons of recent trends in medical history from a global perspective is to focus on how colonizers enforced anti-infectious disease measures toward the indigenous and their reaction towards Western medical standards. India and Africa are common case studies in this context. For example, David Arnold examines the historical journey from a stern resistance to smooth enforcement of vaccination in India, pointing out that apart from indigenous opposition and belief, there were political pressure and financial consideration when colonizers decide to introduce vaccination. On the other hand, Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Mark Harrison, and Michael Worboys examine numerous archival materials and reconstruct the administrative boundaries between the central and provincial governments regarding vaccination policy. Except for introducing vaccination to China and its popularization, studies on Asian experiences in this context remain scarce. As such, a focus on the anti-infectious measures and their implications in public health policy in Hong Kong may be equally rewarding. Comparative studies, in the past, drew on Indian or African case studies. Hong Kong, a British colony for more than 150 years, can be an illuminating case. It has undergone the subtle interactions of the Chinese tradition and the colonial priorities upon the complex population structure, ever robust and with waves of dynamic migrations. The Hong Kong government did not impose Western medicine on the Chinese community right from the colonial period. The medical history of Hong Kong is a result of the tedious process of cultural negotiations of politics and economy, as well as culture and society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHong Kong History
Subtitle of host publicationThemes in Global Perspective
EditorsMan Kong Wong, Chi Man Kwong
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789811628061
ISBN (Print)9789811628054, 9789811628085
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameHong Kong Studies Reader Series
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2523-7764
ISSN (Electronic)2523-7772


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