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2015 Dr Wu Lien-Teh Lecture Healthy People, Healthy Communities and a Healthy Planet: A Personal Journey By Professor Trevor Hancock

2015 Dr Wu Lien-Teh Lecture Healthy People, Healthy Communities and a Healthy Planet: A Personal JourneyBy Professor Trevor Hancock 17 February 2015 | 10 – 11.30 am | UKM Medical Centre Auditorium, Kuala Lumpur In conjunction with the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society, the UNU International Institute for Global Health and the UKM Medical Faculty are proud to co-host the 2015 Dr Wu Lien-Teh Lecture.Dr Wu Lien-Teh (1879-1960) was a global medical icon. Born in Penang, Malaysia, Wu Lien-Teh was a student of the Penang Free School (one of the oldest English medium schools in the region) and later the first Malaysian and the top medical student at the University of Cambridge where he also obtained a PhD. Dr Wu was among the founders of The Anti-Opium Society and worked at the prestigious Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur where there is a gallery about his great pioneering work.

In 1910, Dr Wu moved to China where, in the north-east, he led the public health response to a major epidemic of pneumonic plague. Dr Wu’s heroic work controlled the epidemic which could have devastated China. He is now honoured as The Plague Fighter and there is a museum in the city of Harbin devoted to him. Dr Wu went on to establish many hospitals and medical schools in China. In 1932, he authored the classic History of Chinese Medicine. Dr Wu was the founding president of the Chinese Medical Association (1916-20). Dr Wu was nominated for the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1935, the first from Malaysia and the region. He returned to Malaysia in 1937 and lived in Ipoh for over two decades, continuing his medical and civic work. When he died in 1960 in Penang, The Times of London wrote “the world of medicine has lost a heroic and almost legendary figure”. In the British Medical Journal, Sir Philip Manson-Bahr stated the name of Dr Wu Lien-Teh “flashed forth as monument of devotion and courage”.

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Programme 9.30am Arrival10.00am – Welcome remarks by Professor Anthony Capon, Director, UNU International Institute for Global Health- Reflections on the life of Dr Wu Lien-Teh by Dato’ Dr Anwar Fazal, President, Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society – 2015 Dr Wu Lien-Teh Lecture by Professor Trevor Hancock– Q&A session Light refreshments 11.30am Close

About the Lecture While I graduated in medicine more than 40 years ago, I graduated from medicine to health about 35 years ago. For more than 30 years, I have been involved in the work of moving upstream: understanding what keeps people healthy and what makes them sick, and acting on that understanding.

In fact, that journey began in Malaysia – in Lundu in the State of Sarawak, to be precise – although I did not realise it at the time. After 4 years of family practice, I started my journey upstream into public health, guided by two fundamental principles that have been my touchstones ever since: ecological sanity and social justice. Today, we would say equity and sustainability

In time, I came to recognize that the health care system is only a rather small determinant of health and that the major determinants of health lie “Beyond Health Care” – the title of a conference I organized in 1984. From here come the ideas of ‘healthy public policy’ and health-focused governance. At that time, I was working in Toronto, and looking at how the city itself was a vital determinant of health. This led to the development of what is by now a global movement for Healthy Cities and Communities, but one rooted in a long history linking urban planning and public health.

I was also involved in ecological politics (I was the first leader of the Green Party in Canada) because it was clear to me – as Rudolf Virchow had said in 1848 – that “politics is but medicine writ large”. It was also clear to me that healthy people not only need healthy communities, but a healthy planet, hence my long-term interest in the ecological determinants of health.

In this presentation, I will reflect on my journey and what it means for the practice of public health and medicine as we confront the greatest threat to human health we have ever faced – ourselves and the all too powerful and pervasive technological civilization we have created.

About the Speaker


Professor Trevor Hancock

Trevor is a public health physician and Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He has a long-standing interest in health and the environment, in the links between health and sustainable development and in the ecological determinants of health. Trevor is currently leading a major report for the Canadian Public Health Association on the health implications of global ecological change. He has played a key role in founding several environment-focused organisations, including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care.


Wu Lien-Teh and China’s First Medical Research Institute

Dr. Wu Lien-Teh and China’s First Medical Research Institute:
The North Manchurian Plague Prevention Service, 1912–1931
Commemorating the international medical legacy of Penang-born Dr. Wu Lien-Teh

Time & Date: 4pm, Sunday, 1 June 2014
Venue: Penang Heritage Trust, 26 Lebuh Gereja (Church Street)

Speaker: David Luesink, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia)
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

Co-organised by Penang Heritage Trust and Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society
Supported by Penang Medical College and Ren i Tang

The north Manchurian plague of 1910 to 1911 is one of modern China’s most well-known medical events. Extensively celebrated in Chinese and English popular and scholarly literature, Wu Lien-teh and his small team of scientists effectively protected Qing (1910–1911) and Republican Chinese sovereignty at a time when China was extremely weak internationally. But protecting sovereignty with medical science does not constitute the whole story, nor should the story end in 1911. After successfully stopping plague in North China, Wu Lien-teh hosted an international conference in Harbin, which had been the epicenter of the plague, to demonstrate his success to leading bacteriologists from all imperialist powers with an interest in commerce, sovereignty, and the spread of disease in Northeast Asia, including Russia, Japan, Britain, France and the United States. Consolidating the growing international prestige of the plague research in Harbin, Wu Lien-teh established China’s first medical research institute. At a time when medical research institutes of this type were relatively new, this institute conducted important, if controversial, research on plague and its vectors of infection. This presentation will refocus attention away from the headlines of 1910–1911 and onto the daily work of scientists and some of the controversies they solved and created over several decades.

About the speaker
David Luesink is visiting assistant Professor in East Asian History at the University of Pittsburgh. He was awarded a Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at Indiana University in Indianapolis, and before that obtained his PhD from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. As a History Department doctoral student David Luesink was awarded two prizes for 2009–2010, namely, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Dissertation Fellowship administered by the Canadian Association of Asian Studies; and the Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan) Pre-Dissertation Fellowship, Institute for Modern History. He is the author of a chapter published in an edited volume: ‘The History of Chinese Medicine: Empires, Transnationalism and Medicine in China, 1908–1937,’ in Iris Borowy, Uneasy Encounters: The Politics of Medicine and Health in China 1900–1937 (Frankfurt, New York, Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), 149–176.

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