Ma Haide The Saga of American Doctor George Hatem in China

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Ma Haide The Saga of American Doctor George Hatem in China

I am staying in China. I detest private practice. There are more things in the world than yourselfand your family. Thereis the whole world in misery and your minorproblemsare nothing I am very interestedin Chinaand the Chineseeffortsat liberation Life on a broad view not limited by any racial or national ties, life that offers the greatestfreedom. Ma and severalcolleaguesexamined 2oo workers of whom were under2o yearsof age, sevenonly i i yearsold.

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Among his conclusionswere: This industryis seento have rhinitis,perforationof the nasalseptum, phagedeniculcersor "chromeholes", conjunctivitis,injuries, lead poisoning and a form of pneumoconiosisor fibrosisof the lungsas its specificrisks. Otherdiseasessuch as tuberculosis, trachoma,otitis, skin diseasesare commonto the generalpoorer classes in China and are intensifiedhere under the conditions This content downloaded from In I, Ma, reminiscingaboutthis report,wrote, All this convincedme that the only peoplewho could reallyput an end to such horrorswerethe ChineseCommunistsandtheirRedArmy" Porter.

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Thus GeorgeHatem did one of the pioneerstudiesin occupational medicine,and, like Virchowa centurybefore him, concludedthat only fundamentalsocialchangecouldputan endto the socialdiseases. He makeshis way to Yananthroughthe dangerous blockade of the Guomindang Chiang Kai Shek military forces, accompaniedby the pioneeringAmericanjournalistEdgar Snow. Soon he is learningChinese, becomes physicianto Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai,andto workersand soldiersfightingat the front;marries the beautifulrevolutionaryactressSu Fei;and servesas an effective publicrelationspersonfor the revolution.

Backedby Mao's dictum, "PutPreventionFirst,"GeorgeHatem and his colleagueswere able to claimby I the virtualelimination of the venerealdiseases. The campaignwas markedby "shoeleather epidemiology,"mass education,and basic social measuressuch as eliminationof prostitutionand new marriagelaws which emancipatedwomen fromtheirfeudalbonds.

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Ma cites "immunitythrough knowledge"as the key to success. BothbookstakeMa throughmany difficultperiods,includingthe culturalrevolutionand the paranoid This content downloaded from Ironically,at the very same time that Ma and his family sufferedharassmentin China,his Americanfamily was being investigatedby the FBI for their relationshipto their ChineseCommunistrelative.

Ma's other big publichealthcontributionwas his work in the control of leprosy, interruptedby his untimely death from cancer in I Shapiro writes that: "George contended that the leprosy colonies and villagesfavoredby the Westin the igth centurywere no longer suitablefor China. He proposed four basic principles:social preventionand treatmentinsteadof hospitalisolation;the combination of severalkinds of medicineinstead of a single medicine;equal emphasis on treatmentand rehabilitation;and mobilizationof the whole society for the effort insteadof only the professionals.

Emblematicof George Hatem's world view is the fact that, although decliningfrom cancer,he went to Montrealin i to attend the meeting of the InternationalPhysiciansfor the Preventionof Nuclear War, an organizationhe persuadedChinese physiciansto support.

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Which of these books should you read? I recommendboth.

Day in the Life - Chinese Medical Student

They are absorbingreadingand will give you a pictureof the Chineserevolution and of many of its leading personalities. Shapiro also has some excellent photographs.


In an epilogue, Shapiro poses some poignant questionson how Ma, if he had lived, would have reacted to the eventsin TianAn Men in i, to the on-going "reforms,"and to the returnof venerealdiseases. Ma died in i at the age of His funeral was attended by China'stop leaders.

Virtual International Authority File

Shapiro was the only foreign-born Chinese person there. We often met and discussed how China should carry out international communication and of course, translate Chinese books into foreign languages. I had just returned to China after studying in the UK. Due to my enthusiasm for spreading Chinese culture and my close acquaintance with Shapiro and other experts, I was particularly open about my thoughts. One day, I remarked that we should not be content with translating Chinese books, but should try to write original content in English.

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You do not know the true essence of international communication yet. You should hone your translation skills first, as writing in English is far more difficult. Whether and when you can write in English depends on progress you make in the future.

Since then, I have continued working passionately for more than 30 years. My friendship with Shapiro blossomed in the s when I published his book on George Hatem, also known as Ma Haide, an America-born doctor who spent decades practicing medicine in China.