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Michael Chew Koon Chan, Lord Chan of Oxton

Paediatrician

The Singapore-born Lord Chan, who passed away at the beginning of 2006, was the House of Lords' only peer of Chinese origin. One of his medical specialities during his last decade as Liverpool University's professor of ethnic health had been the vulnerability of ethnic minorities.

He was long-serving lecturer and consultant at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and an outstanding member of Liverpool's Chinese Christian community. In 2001 he became one of the so-called "people's peers".

He was a staunch, campaigning defender of all minorities. Writing to the Times in April 2004, as vice president of the Wirral Multicultural Organisation, he warned: "Equality of opportunity and equity of access to employment and promotion are essential safeguards against the dangerous voices of extremism."

He was born in still-colonial, Singapore, the son of a headmaster. He took his father's Christian name of Michael because the family were part of Singapore's Christian minority. Educated at Singapore's top Raffles Institution, he went on to study medicine at Guy's Hospital, where he met his wife Irene Wei-Len Chee, whom he married in 1965. They returned to Singapore, where he became a lecturer and consultant paediatrician at the University of Singapore.

Having a special interest in diseases of the blood, he returned to London in 1974 to study Von Willebrand's Disease at the University of London Institute of Child Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital. From 1976 he spent 18 years at the Liverpool School of Medicine as a senior clinical lecturer and consultant paediatrician. He helped train Indian doctors, especially paediatricians.

Chan's gentle but effective diplomacy led to invitations to serve on a range of public bodies and advisory groups. In 1994, he became director of the Leeds-based NHS Ethnic Health Unit, which financed health programmes for vulnerable ethnic minorities. From 1999 he became a director of two successive north-western primary health trusts. He was chairman of the Minority Ethnic Taskforce of the Directorate of Public Health and the Acupuncture Regulatory Working Group. He joined the Sentencing Panel in 1999 and contributed heavily to the Commission on the Future of Multicultural Britain under its chairman, Lord Parekh, who reported in 2000. He joined the Press Complaints Commission in 2002.

A committed Christian and elder of the Liverpool Chinese Gospel Church, Chan was well known for his charitable work. He served as chairman of Chinese Overseas Christian Mission, the Chinese in Britain Forum, the Wirral Multicultural Organisation and the Afiya Trust. A Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, he served during the 1980s as convener of its overseas committee and of its international child health group. Lord Chan was also the Patron of The Pearl Awards.

His publications include Diseases of Children in the Tropics and Subtropics (1991), and he contributed sections on developing countries to Robertson's Textbook of Neonatology (3rd edition 1999), and on health and social care to the Parekh Report of the Commission on the Future of Multicultural Britain in 2000.

Chan was appointed MBE in 1991 and chosen as one of the first "People's Peers" in 2001, taking his place on the crossbenches of the House of Lords.

Michael Chew Koon Chan, Lord Chan of Oxton, paediatrician, born March 6 1940; died January 21 2006

Source : Guardian and Telegraph

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Updated on 21 October, 2007


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