Author: Sara Habibipour
Since May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let's take a moment to appreciate some Asian-Pacific women who changed the face of medicine.
Tu Youyou was born and raised in Ningbo, Zhejiang China. Since 1965, she has worked at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where she is now Chief Scientist. She is well-known for her discovery of one of the world's most effective anti-malarial drugs, artemisinin (which is derived from qinghaosu in Traditional Chinese Medicine). For her discoveries, she was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Jemilah Mahmood is a Malaysian doctor. She is the founder of Mercy Malaysia, a non-profit that provides medical relief to Malaysians, and the current Under-Secretary-General for Partnerships of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Mahmood is trained in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her accolades include the Isa Award for Service to Humanity (2013), Merdeka Award (2015) (the Malaysian Nobel Peace Prize), and the 2019 ASEAN prize.
Yoshioka Yayoi was a Japanese physician and women's rights activist. She founded the Tokyo Women's University School of Medicine in 1900, which was the first medical school for women in Japan.
Although it was pretty taboo at the time, she was a great advocate for sex education and encouraged women to enter medicine.
For her work in sex education and promoting education for women, she was awarded the Order of the Precious Crown (1955) and Order of the Sacred Treasure (1959).
Honoria Acosta Sison
Honoria Acosta Sison was the first Filipina doctor when she graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1909.
She first worked as an assistant in OB/GYN at the Philippine General Hospital of Manila and at St. Paul’s Hospital in Manila, before becoming a faculty member at the University of Philippines in 1914.
In 1940, she became a professor of OB/GYN and head of the department of OB/GYN of the University of Philippines. She is well renowned for her work on trophoblastic diseases and pre-eclampsia.
Marie Thomas was the first female doctor in Indonesia, as well as the first OB/GYN in Indonesia. She was the first female graduate from Opleiding van Indische Artsen School (STOVIA).
She was the founder of the first midwifery school in Sumatra, and second midwifery school in Indonesia. She was one of the first Indonesian doctors to advocate the usage of birth controls and intrauterine devices.
Hopefully you learned about someone new! Personally, I haven't heard of most of these women's accomplishments. But, they were vital in changing the face of medicine not only in their own countries, but internationally.