Wang King-ho (王金河), the doctor popularly known as the “Father of Blackfoot Disease,” passed away on Thursday evening, aged 97.
Back in the late 1950s, a mysterious illness dubbed by locals “blackfoot disease” afflicted several townships in Tainan and Chiayi counties, including Syuejia (學甲), Beimen (北門), Budai (布袋) and Yijhu (義竹), where residents mainly depended on deep wells for drinking water.
With the aid of the Christian charity Mustard Seed Mission, Wang — a native of Tainan — set up a free clinic for the treatment of blackfoot disease in Beimen Township in 1960. That began his more than 25 years of practice mainly dedicated to the treatment of blackfoot disease.
At one time, the clinic took in more than 80 patients who lived and were treated for free at the clinic.
Wang’s old clinic — a modest Japanese-style one-story wooden structure — was designated as the Taiwan Blackfoot Disease Socio-Medical Service Memorial House in September 2007 to commemorate his selfless dedication and the history of a disease unique to Taiwan.
Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that the city government would speak with Wang’s family on holding a memorial service to commemorate his work and lifetime of dedication and sacrifice.