Dr. Wu Lien-teh (1879-1960) was a Chinese-Malayan physician renowned for his work in public health. Wu’s legacy includes a mountain of achievements that paved the way for medical care, public health, and Asian healthcare professionals. His prolific contributions to medicine and public health have paved the way for so many of our life-saving best practices today, particularly as we navigate solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is a list of eight of Dr. Wu Lien-teh’s most remarkable accomplishments in medicine and public health:
- Wu was the first student of Chinese descent to graduate in medicine from Cambridge.
- Wu made tremendous contributions to the assessment and prevention of the Pneumonic Manchurian plague, serving as the North Manchurian Plague Prevention Service director.
- Wu developed a more substantial and safer surgical mask, known as the Wu Mask, the forerunner of today’s N95 respirator. The mask consisted of layers of cotton and gauze fitted snugly around the face.
- Wu was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 1935 for his work on the Manchurian Plage.
- Wu served as the secretary and then the president of the National Medical Association, created to promote western medicine in China.
- Wu was the first director of the National Quarantine Service (NQS) in China.
- An anti-opium trailblazer, Wu founded the Anti-Opium Association in the Malaysian state of Penang.
- Wu published over 92 papers, including 31 about plagues and numerous articles on other infectious diseases, public health, narcotics, and medical history.
Heluna Health honors and celebrates the work of Dr. Wu Lien-teh as a trailblazer in the field of population health. Without Wu’s contributions, pandemics like COVID-19 would be far more fatal and difficult to manage. In 1910, just days before Lunar New Year, the Chinese government sent Wu to the epicenter of the Pneumonic Manchurian plague for fear that the epidemic would spread due to the holiday. Sadly, on Lunar New in January of 1911, the first mass cremation in Chinese history began due to the plague. Today, we celebrate Lunar New Year over 100 years later, grateful that even though we are amid a new pandemic, we can save more lives because of people like Dr. Wu Lien-teh.