Taiwan is a medical miracle. In the postwar years, the island was impoverished, sanitation was a nightmare, and contagious diseases bedeviled the population. A step-by-step effort by medical professionals aided by the World Health Organization meant the gradual eradication of malaria, smallpox, polio, and other diseases. The nation dispatched a host of difficulties and introduced a national health insurance program in 1995, becoming the first nation in Asia to do so. Taiwan, moreover, was the fourth country in the world, and the first in Asia, to establish a ratings system for its medical centers. Taiwan has the honor of claiming the first juvenile liver transplant, the first kidney transplant in Asia, and the successful treatment of SARS. Taiwan has been called by The Economist the second-healthiest country on the planet. And, on January 25, 2017, Taiwan established the Biomedical Industry Innovation Program Center, which is mandated to work for the better health of all people.
From humble beginnings, Taiwan has accumulated a wealth of medical knowledge that it has been proud to share with the world. These efforts began with the dispatch of medical missions in 1962, and have continued unabated. In 1996, the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund was established to execute the government’s foreign aid programs including medical and public health humanitarian assistance abroad. In 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Welfare established Taiwan International Health Action (TaiwanIHA), which taps into public and private resources to provide emergency medical aid and to deliver related goods whenever disaster strikes anywhere around the world. In cooperation with domestic hospitals and private organizations, both domestic and foreign, TaiwanIHA dispatches medical teams, donates medical equipment, trains medical personnel, offers scholarships, and provides humanitarian aid worldwide; in so doing it helps underdeveloped and developing nations improve and enhance the capacities for medical care.