Steps to Improvement A century ago, good health could be a precarious thing for Hong Kong people. Infections and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis abounded and the largely Chinese population was not always familiar with Western medicine, although that was swiftly changing. The Department of Medicine was established in this environment, at a time when the University of Hong Kong itself was facing financial difficulties. But it had a couple of things going for it: one was an endowment from the China Medical Board of the Rockefeller Foundation for a Chair Professor of Medicine. The other was a clear need for more expertise due to the dearth of medical professionals in the city. Indeed, soon after establishment, the Department was allocated onequarter of the beds plus the outpatient clinic in the Government Civil Hospital and it played a major role at Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) from the day it opened its doors in 1937. The city’s needs sustained the Department in the years to come, despite the disruption of the Second World War, when European staff were interned and students escaped to Free China to continue their studies where possible. It really started to show its worth in the post-war period, when Hong Kong’s population multiplied due to returning residents and an influx of refugees from the civil war. Not only were both staff and students helping to deal with a high patient load (in QMH, for instance, beds had to be set up on outdoor verandas when indoor space ran out), but they were also staying on top of the rapid advances and specialisation in biomedical sciences that were starting to appear at this time. This coincided with increases in life expectancy and noncommunicable diseases in the ↑The Department of Medicine in 1928 學系仝寅攝於1928年 ↓Queen Mary Hospital in 1940 1940年的瑪麗醫院 5 HKUMed News Winter 2023