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Taiwan's malaria fighter Lien Jih-ching passes away at age 96

Dubbed ‘Dr. Mosquito,’ Lien continued his research on the insect into his 90s

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Lien Jih-ching helped Taiwan's former ally Sao Tome and Principe combat malaria. (Sci-Tech Vista, Ministry of Science and Technology photo)

Lien Jih-ching helped Taiwan's former ally Sao Tome and Principe combat malaria. (Sci-Tech Vista, Ministry of Science and Technology photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s “Dr. Mosquito” Lien Jih-ching (連日清), whose contribution led to Taiwan becoming the first country in the world to eradicate malaria, passed away at the age of 96 on Wednesday (Feb. 16).

Liberty Times reported that Lien, born in Taipei, worked at the Taihoku Imperial University’s Institute of Tropical Medicine (now National Taiwan University’s College of Public Health) at the age of 15. He was inspired to study mosquitos while helping Japanese entomologist Omoriminami Saburo battle a wave of dengue fever that infected 5 million out of the 8 million people in Taiwan in 1942.

Under further encouragement from Omoriminami, Lien went on to discover so many mosquito species that he contributed to 1% of all mosquito species discoveries in the world. According to Common Health Magazine, Lien discovered and named 29 out of the nearly 140 species of mosquitos in Taiwan.

Lien joined the government’s epidemic prevention workforce after getting out of school. Under his leadership, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Taiwan free of malaria in 1965, making Taiwan the first country in the world to receive such certification.

However, Lien’s work did not stop there; he continued leading teams that traveled across the world to help local governments combat diseases spread by mosquitos, per Liberty Times. Even at the age of 80, Lien led multiple missions to Sao Tome and Principe, helping Taiwan’s former ally in Africa eliminate malaria and training a group of public health staff members.

On Oct. 25, 2011, Lien’s work was officially recognized through the presidential third-class Order of Brilliant Star. On Nov. 2, 2016, Lien received a Grand Medal of Diplomacy from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his work in Sao Tome and Principe.

Taiwan's malaria fighter Lien Jih-ching passes away at age 96
Lien poses with a group of Sao Tome and Principe public health staff members. (Sci-Tech Vista, Ministry of Science and Technology photo)