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Harvard Medical School in China


The following article by President Eliot on "The Harvard Medical School in China at Shanghai" is reprinted by permission from the June number of the Graduates' Magazine.

About three years ago a group of students in the Harvard Medical School conceived the idea that a medical institution in China, undertaken and chiefly manned by Harvard medical graduates, might render good service to the science and art of medicine, and would offer an eminently useful and beneficent career to well-equipped young men who were willing to devote their lives to medical teaching, research, and practice in China. The institution was thought of both as a medical mission and a research laboratory. After consultation with several persons, conversant with the medical and missionary situation in China, the young men brought the matter to the attention of President Eliot, who laid the plan before a small group of gentlemen likely to be interested in the project and well fitted to be trustees for the proposed institution. These gentlemen thought it desirable to send a competent person to China to make a preliminary study of the state of medical education and medical practice there, to estimate the probable interest of government officials in such an institution, to determine the best city in which to establish the proposed school and laboratories, and to ascertain the amount of cooperation which could be secured from existing institutions maintained by American or European money.

Dr. M. R. Edwards Sent to Investigate.

The agent selected for this exploration was Dr. Martin R. Edwards, one of the young men who had from the first felt a strong interest in the undertaking. Money was raised to defray Dr. Edwards's expenses; and he devoted seven months to diligent inquiries and observations in the chief cities of China, and especially among the medical missionaries and practitioners already established there.

On his return Dr. Edwards presented to the proposed Trustees a careful report on the general condition of the Chinese population from the sanitarian's point of view and on the medical needs of the country. He described the conditions favorable to the establishment of the proposed institution, recommended Shanghai as the best location for the school, and submitted estimates concerning the number of the staff, the initial expenses, the running expenses, and the possible yearly receipts.

Disgraceful Conditions Exposed.

The medical condition of China is startling in many ways to one accustomed to the sanitary regulations and comparatively wholesome conditions existing in the Western world. Disease from its mildest to its most hideous forms is diffused throughout China's four hundred millions of people. Up to the present time hardly any efforts have been made to deal with the abominable situation in a scientific manner. Ignorance of the sources of disease and of the ways in which disease is spread is universal. The great mass of the people believes that the gods send epidemics, or that heaven wills that cholera or the bubonic plague should carry off its thousands. Up to the last few years municipal cleanliness was unknown. Sewers are found in but few of the cities. Town refuse which has value as food for animals or as manure is removed daily by hand in open vessels. Inspection of food and water supplies is carried on only in the four or five cities where considerable numbers of foreigners live. Hygienic measures are unimagined in the typical Chinese home, except that drinking water is always boiled, and each person carries his own chopsticks. The food of the great majority of the people lacks variety and is often inadequate in amount. As a result of this lack of medical knowledge and of skill in sanitation, dangerous diseases rage uncontrolled. In certain

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