Taiwan is willing and able to share its expertise in disease control, medical training and universal health coverage through meaningful participation in the World Health Organization.
Since 2015, Taiwan has hosted six international disease-fighting workshops under the Taiwan-U.S. Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) to strengthen the regional capacity to respond to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The workshops are co-organized by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and its U.S. counterpart. More than 120 officials and specialists from about 20 Indo-Pacific countries have attended these events to learn about tackling public health risks like chikungunya, dengue fever, enterovirus-related illnesses, Middle East respiratory syndrome, tuberculosis (TB) and Zika.
Kicking off in late April, the most recent workshop is focusing on drug-resistant TB. According to CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), this topic was chosen due to the growing threat posed by the disease in several regions including Southeast Asia. “Taiwan has had great success in combating this challenge,” he said, adding that the number of new cases of multidrug-resistant TB under management in the country dropped to about 100 in 2018 from around 400 a decade ago.
The nation has recorded similar progress in tackling other strains, with the overall incidence rate of TB falling to 37 for every 100,000 people last year, down from 73 in 2005, CDC statistics show. “We’re willing and able to share our expertise with any country confronting this threat,” Chou said.
GCTF training camps are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Taiwan’s efforts to support international health development. “Once a recipient of foreign aid, Taiwan is giving back to the world by providing help where it is needed most,” MOHW Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said. “The nation is making indispensable contributions to the global health network.”
A prominent example of its work in this regard is the Taiwan International Healthcare Training Center. Established in 2002, the MOHW-administrated facility offers foreign personnel instruction in fields spanning clinical medicine, traditional Chinese treatments and health care management. By the end of last year, around 1,500 professionals from 65 countries and territories had completed courses organized by the center.
Equally impactful is the Global Medical Instruments Support and Service Program. Launched by the MOHW in 2005, it has integrated efforts by hospitals across Taiwan to provide equipment to developing nations. More than 5,400 items have been shipped to medical institutions in 33 countries and territories under the project.
According to Chen, through these and a myriad other programs, Taiwan has conclusively demonstrated its commitment to strengthening global health, and warrants inclusion as an observer in the 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA)—the decision-making body of World Health Organization (WHO)—May 20-28 in Geneva. “Taiwan is seeking professional, pragmatic and constructive participation in the WHA, as well as technical meetings and activities of the WHO, so it can share this knowledge and give back to the world,” he said.