Medicine and Public Health


On the History of Medicine and Sanitation: Taiwan’s Sanitation and Medical Conditions during the Japanese Colonial Period (Year: 2018/ Ministry of Education, Taiwan: Digital Humanity Program -Taiwan Memory Exhibition-4)


Yen-Chiou Fan



Education/ Experiences   


Institution/ Academic Affiliation   

Graduate Institute of Taiwan History, Taiwan Normal University

Research Area

Taiwan Medical History, Modern Taiwan and Body History, the Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Community and Taiwan History, Research and Display of Museum Collections of Taiwan
About the project

This theme series is about Taiwan’s medical and health history. In order to focus on the establishment of modern medicine and public health, it is necessary for us to begin with the presentation of Taiwan’s medical and public health development during the Japanese Occupation Period. Basically, Taiwan’s modern medicine was introduced by Western missionaries at the end of the 19th century. Between 1858 and 1860, when the Qing Empire was being defeated by the joint forces of Britain and France, Taiwan was forced to open its ports to trade with foreign countries. Western missionaries followed in the wake of the Western powers to come to Taiwan to preach the word of God. In the special political environment of late Qing, the Western missionaries faced great resistance. But by combining their preaching with the use of Western medicine, especially the enlightened use of anesthetics and disinfectants during surgery, made it possible for the missionaries to overcome resistance and establish their mission bases. In other words, Taiwan’s modern medical development at the end of the 19th century started with Western missionary medicine.

Even so, in terms of both the establishment and development of modern medical system and for the establishment of public health, a more important time was the fifty years of the Japanese Occupation Period when Japan took over Taiwan in 1895. At the time, Japan had experienced the Meiji Restoration in mid-19th century and firmly accepted modern Western medicine as the principle of development. It also started to promote public health to curb epidemics, mainly cholera. Therefore, in the beginning of Japan’s governing of Taiwan and based on the practical need to consolidate the colonization of the island, Japan introduced a system of practices to Taiwan, especially in the handling of tropical endemic and infectious diseases. Needless to say, public health is not just about the establishment of a system; more importantly, it is based on practice, effects, and influence. These are also the important contents of this theme exhibition.

Research Assistant

Ying-Hsuan Huang (Master, Graduate Institute of Architecture, Tainan National University of the Arts)