By Chiu Wen-ta, Minister, Department of Health
Taiwan, located at the nexus of northeast and southeast Asia, is the 18th largest economy in the world and is replete with vitality and a robust humanitarian spirit of caring. With greater opportunities for global cooperation in health issues since being invited to the World Health Assembly in 2009, Taiwan has wholeheartedly abided by the humanitarian principle that diseases know no borders, enthusiastically joining the effort to safeguard world health. It does so not only to discharge its obligation as a member of the international community, but also because it can add fresh vitality to the effort of keeping our global village healthy.
Taiwan has been steadfast in its support of international humanitarian aid and healthcare activities over the years. Our government and people have actively taken part in various worldwide medical aid and health exchanges. For instance, TaiwanIHA (Taiwan International Health Action) has toured the globe to offer emergency rescue and relief in recent years to countries suffering natural disasters, such as Haiti. We have also successfully shared our experience and knowledge via Taiwan Health Center branches located in the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.
As a member of the international community, Taiwan has accumulated a great deal of successful experience and has developed an advantage in the areas of national health insurance, medical technology and epidemic prevention and control. The World Health Organization of the United Nations chose “national health insurance” as the theme of its 2010 World Health Report, indicating the importance that the global public health community has come to attach recently to setting up a well-developed health insurance system.
Taiwan’s national health insurance system has used relatively low premiums to cover outpatient and inpatient services since its implementation in 1995. With an insured rate of more than 95 percent, it has attained the objective of covering the entire populace and making access to medical care barrier free. It has also safeguarded the right of minority groups and the seriously ill and injured to medical treatment.
As a key manufacturer of information and communications products for the world, Taiwan has a solid foundation for developing medical technology. We have developed world-class expertise in biochips, biomedical materials, biomedical informatics and both medical and pharmaceutical engineering. This has allowed us to implement electronic medical record management and the practice of distance healthcare, greatly boosting the safety and treatment standards for patients, while lowering national health insurance costs.
As the International Health Regulations of 2005 are being implemented worldwide, Taiwan is now able to receive timely information on epidemics and food safety so that it can help safeguard public health in the Asia-Pacific region. We are willing to share joint responsibility with the world community to report information promptly and to contribute resources and expertise to the establishment of a safety net for public health in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.
In the future, we shall continue to invest resources, as well as promote and take part in various international world health activities. We shall also encourage our scholars, medical professionals and NGOs to forge closer links with academic associations and groups in their respective areas of expertise. In addition, we shall work to promote the Millennium Development Goals for medical cooperation set by the United Nations to deal with prevention and control issues pertaining to trans-national contagious diseases and non-contagious diseases. This will demonstrate Taiwan’s soft power and the fresh vitality that it brings to the effort on behalf of human health worldwide.
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