Island hopping doctor in Taiwan's Penghu has died

Doctor Ho Wu-chung (侯武忠), who sailed his own boat to Penghu Archipelago's remote islands to see patients for more than 20 years, has died. He was 55.

Ho used his own money to buy two boats for sailing to the islands.  (Photo by CNA)

Ho used his own money to buy two boats for sailing to the islands. (Photo by CNA)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—Doctor Ho Wu-chung (侯武忠), who sailed his own boat to Penghu Archipelago’s remote islands to see patients for more than 20 years, has died. He was 55 years old.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February. Even though he was hospitalized and received chemotherapy, he still succumbed to the disease and died at Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital on November 20.

After having graduated from Kaohsiung Medical University, Ho chose to go back to Penghu, his home town, to practice medicine, and had served at Penghu Hospital, Penghu Public Health Bureau, Baisha Township Public Health Center, and the county’s Chronic Disease Center.

Penghu Public Health Bureau Director-General Chen Shu-chuan (陳淑娟) said that during more than 20 years of his medical service career, he mostly saw patients in Baisha Township and the offshore island townships of Wang-an (望安) and Qimei (七美). In addition to the 10 villages that are under the jurisdiction of Baisha Township Public Health Center, where he worked for most of the years, he also traveled regularly to four other inhabited islets--Yuanbei (員貝), Niaoyu (鳥嶼), Dacang (大倉) and Jibei (吉貝)-- to provide medical care to the islanders.

As he had to travel from island to island to hold regular clinics, Ho used his own money to buy two boats for sailing to the islands, Chen said, adding that he had been greatly praised by the islanders for his treating every patient as he would treat his family.

At first Ho relied on commuter boats, but their services could be suspended due to bad weather, especially during winters when strong winds were prevalent. To solve the problem, he came up with the idea of buying his own boats. He reportedly got a sailing license after learning how to sail a boat from “an old skipper” for half a year.

Because of his going beyond the call of duty to visit patients, he won the country’s Medical Contribution Award when he was younger than 40 years of age.

In the past when Penghu Hospital was understaffed, he also doubled as an emergency department doctor for the hospital at night as well as a medical examiner for performing autopsies for the Ministry of Justice. This year Ho received a citation from the ministry for doing an excellent job as a medical examiner.

Before he died, Ho expressed his wish to be buried in his home town, which his family would do, and the funeral is set on December 3.