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Health By Design:
Curating an Exhibition of Hong Kong Public Health Posters

Event Details:

Date: 02 May 2024 (Thursday)

Time: 2:00 - 4:00pm

Location: B4-LP-06, EdUHK (Taipo Campus)

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Dr. Ria Sinha is a Lecturer in the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit at the University of Hong Kong where she coordinates History of Medicine teaching and learning. She trained in biology and parasitology at King’s College London and gained a PhD from Imperial College London in collaboration with Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) in the Netherlands. Her research and teaching at HKU has expanded into interdisciplinary research that considers the complex and dynamic sociocultural, ecological, historical, technological, and medico-scientific determinants of infectious disease emergence and management. She is currently curating the Covid-19 Archive Project to document the coronavirus pandemic, and is completing a book on the History of Malaria in Hong Kong.

Dr. Ria Sinha


Medical Ethics and Humanities,



After the Second World War, public health improved dramatically in Hong Kong. From wartime ruination and infectious disease outbreaks, the city would transform into one of the healthiest locations in the world. Development both accompanied and underpinned Hong Kong’s ‘economic miracle’ that took shape over the same period, but it brought new health challenges too. Increased health literacy was achieved by generating public enthusiasm for health, hygiene, and “modern medicine” through the powerful use of imagery. Creative and impactful visual health messaging was produced by both government departments and NGOs, and posters were displayed in a range of venues: from streets, lifts, restaurants, and public transport to the entrances of country parks and glittering malls. Bearing slogans, and such memorable characters as Miss Ping On 平安小姐 and Lap Sap Chung 垃圾蟲 health posters became as familiar a sight in the post-war city as its neon signs and commercial adverts. A rise in non-communicable and lifestyle diseases, as well as the more recent Covid-19 pandemic, have served to amplify the medium to disseminate health information, but while public health posters remain ubiquitous in Hong Kong, can they remain relevant in a rapidly advancing digital era?

This talk explores an ongoing project at the Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit (#MEHU) at HKU Faculty of Medicine that is curating a collection of postwar health posters for research and display in a public exhibition in Hong Kong. It will detail the history and evolution of the city’s health posters, changes in aesthetics and approaches to messaging, the disparate archives that hold historical posters and the process of collecting them, stakeholders, ownership and rights, and curatorial considerations for displaying them to different public sectors. It will also critically examine what the role of public health messaging is in demonstrating care for the individual and the community and the obligation to provide accurate health information and timely follow-up.

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