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Ko Wing Man on Chinese Medicine: Harmony Between Nature and HumankindHKU SPACE

The Dr Ko Wing Man we usually see on TV is typically brisk and somewhat pressed for time. Today, we introduce another side of Dr Ko, unveiling his views of life, the reasons behind his academic pursuit of Chinese medicine as a Western trained doctor, and the emphasis he places on lifelong learning.

Dr Ko grew up with a special awareness of Chinese medicinal knowledge. His father managed a Chinese pharmacy, and Dr Ko developed an acute interest in Chinese herbs as a child. He recalls picking them up and sniffing their unique aromas, and using his senses of touch and smell to understand the properties of each herb.

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Dr Ko is a keen student of Chinese culture and literature, and especially of Confucianism and Taoist thought. So he is familiar with the Chinese medical concept of “harmony between nature and humankind”. Despite being trained as physician of Western medicine, Dr Ko also agrees strongly with many traditional Eastern concepts, and firmly believes that the traditions of Chinese and Western medicine each possess invaluable essences. Dr Ko even reveals to us that he himself has visited Chinese bonesetters to seek treatment for soccer injuries.

Dr Ko first considered studying Chinese medicine formally during his tenure at the Hospital Authority. At the time, the Hong Kong government was exploring ways to incorporate the deep traditions of Chinese medicine into the city’s existing healthcare infrastructure. Consequently, Dr Ko began pondering the possibility of studying the subject himself.

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In those years, HKU SPACE was the only institution that offered systematic courses on Chinese medicine at the level of tertiary education. Dr Ko first enrolled in a class on the foundational theories of Chinese medicine and subsequently completed six courses on the topic, mastering in particular the philosophy of “harmony between nature and humankind”. Parallel to his study of the subject, Dr Ko began planning the integration of Chinese medical services into the city’s mainstream Western medicine infrastructure. 

In light of the drastically different systems and backgrounds of the two traditions from East and West, some may question the possibility of such an integration. From Dr Ko’s perspective, however, each doctor – regardless of the tradition in which they were trained – ought to conduct treatments by adopting a person-oriented, patient-centered approach. Based on such a point of departure, Dr Ko finds no inherent contradictions between Eastern and Western medicine.

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When asked whether he found it a struggle to fit studying into his extremely packed work schedule, Dr Ko replies that continuous education is not only commonplace, but indeed necessary in today’s world. We need to keep learning every day, not just to keep up with the rapid development of new technological gadgets, but because continuous education is essential especially in the field of medicine and healthcare, where science and knowledge has progressed in leaps and bounds over the years.

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Aside from medicine, some of Dr Ko’s pastimes include astronomy and bird-watching.

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