Taiwan’s OCOC initiative improves lives, regional health in NSP target countries

From Taiwan Today 2020-12-11
Children are the main beneficiaries of Changhua Christian Hospital’s free clinics in Vietnam. (Courtesy of CCH)

Children are the main beneficiaries of Changhua Christian Hospital’s free clinics in Vietnam. (Courtesy of CCH)

Taiwan’s farsighted One Country, One Center initiative is sharing the country’s health care experience with like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific, underscoring the government’s commitment to improving lives across the region.

Launched in June 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, OCOC is a New Southbound Policy-centric platform for assessing market opportunities and medical regulations, establishing culturally sensitive treatment environments and providing health consultation services for Taiwan businesspeople.

A key plank in the government’s national development strategy, the NSP seeks to deepen Taiwan’s agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

Advanced equipment is helping Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital fly the flag abroad for Taiwan’s high-quality health care. (Courtesy of Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital)

Advanced equipment is helping Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital fly the flag abroad for Taiwan’s high-quality health care. (Courtesy of Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital)

Seven medical centers take part in OCOC, with each concentrating on an NSP target country: Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City, Malaysia; Changhua Christian Hospital in the central Taiwan county, Thailand; Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital in eastern Taiwan, the Philippines; National Cheng Kung University Hospital in southern Taiwan’s Tainan City, India; National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, Indonesia; Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital in Taipei, Myanmar; and Taipei Veterans General Hospital in partnership with veterans general hospitals in central Taiwan’s Taichung City, southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City as well as National Yang-Ming University in Taipei, Vietnam.

According to MOHW Minister Chen Shih-chung, among the OCOC’s goals is to connect people, markets and supply chains while cultivating talent and enhancing mutual understanding and trust. Trainees are more than just an investment in the here and now, Chen said, adding that they’re expected to double as seed teachers upon returning home, helping amplify the effect of OCOC and opening the door for tie-ups with Taiwan’s medical industry firms throughout the region.

From January 2018 to July 2019, the medical centers trained 484 medical professionals and assisted 98 Taiwan drug and medical device companies secure orders worth over US$2.2 million. They also signed 78 memorandums of understanding on cooperation with partner hospitals, according to the MOHW.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung is all smiles alongside the ministry’s logo affixed to the wall. (Staff photo/Chen Mei-ling)

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung is all smiles alongside the ministry’s logo affixed to the wall. (Staff photo/Chen Mei-ling)

Case in point is TVGH’s International Medical Service Center, which has implemented cooperative projects with six countries in its 11-year existence. Vietnam is a particularly fruitful staging ground, with TVGH pediatric surgeons earning praise for assisting with liver transplants at Vietnam National Children’s Hospital in Hanoi.

Positive results of the initiative are also demonstrated by the growing number of patients from the NSP target countries seeking treatment in Taiwan. MOHW statistics show that 157,000 such medical tourists visited in 2018, up 52 percent from the year before.

OCOC is seen by Minister Chen as Taiwan’s ticket for internationalizing local health care services. “Public and private resources are invested in ensuring the success of the initiative,” he said. “This is a serious commitment that helps people lead healthier lives and powerfully projects the country’s soft power.” (YCH-E) (By Kelly Her)

Taiwan medical centers participating in OCOC are each responsible for operations in one New Southbound Policy target country. (Courtesy of CCH)

Taiwan medical centers participating in OCOC are each responsible for operations in one New Southbound Policy target country. (Courtesy of CCH)