St. Kitts – Nevis Minister of Health – Marcella Liburd
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
May 25, 2013 (SKNIS)
Minister of Health, the Hon Marcella Liburd, echoed St. Kitts and Nevis‘ Government continued support for full inclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) into the World Health Organization as the National delegation prepared for this year’s World Health Assembly.
Taiwan participated in this year’s World Health Assembly as an observer, in Geneva, Switzerland. The continued achievements and commitment to world health issues of Taiwan’s Ministry of Health underscores the reason why full membership should be considered.
Minister of Health Chiu Wen-Ta emphasized aspects of the health advances made in his country.
“For over 50 years the prevention of communicable diseases has been the most important public health issue in Taiwan,” said Minister of Health Chiu Wen-Ta. “There has been significant success in the eradication of a number of communicable diseases including Malaria, cholera, smallpox and rabies as well as significant strides in its fight against Hepatitis B.”
Taiwan was once known for the prevalence of liver diseases, with hepatitis B being, then as now, the most common ailment. Since 2000, all newborns in Taiwan have been given a hepatitis B vaccine, and thus there is a very low carrier rate in children of this generation. The percentage of chronic infection of the hepatitis B virus is less than 1 percent, comparable to developed countries in Europe, the United States, and Japan.
In addition to the prevention of communicable diseases, Taiwan has made great progress in preventing accidents. As a neurosurgeon, Minister Chiu promoted road safety, which led to a 1997 legislation requiring the wearing of helmets by motorcycle and scooter riders. This policy significantly reduced the number of head injuries in Taiwan demonstrating health enhancement.
Since its implementation in 1995, the National Health Insurance (NHI) program is another milestone in public health in Taiwan. The NHI has removed economic barriers to medical care and increased accessibility with citizen’s satisfaction for the program ranging between 70 and 80 percent.
As in many other countries around the world, an aging society presents a major challenge to Taiwan.
In Taiwan, an aging population is prone to such non-communicable diseases as malignant tumors, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory tract diseases account for 80 percent of total deaths. We introduced free Pap tests for women in 1995 and have since seen the standardized mortality rate of cervical cancer decrease by 60 percent (from 10.9 to 4.1 per 100,000 persons). The implementation of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act and hikes in tobacco prices has cut the smoking rate among adult males by one-third.
Taiwan has initiated a plan to create a “golden decade” of prosperity, which aims to achieve the following by the year 2020: a 20-percent decline in the cancer mortality rate (from 131.6 to 106 per 100,000 persons), a 50-percent decrease in the adult smoking rate (from 20 to 10 percent of the population), and a two-fold increase in the number of adults engaged in regular physical activity.
In response to the WHO’s call for disability care, Taiwan is one of a handful of members that has adopted the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health in its disability assessment, which it has integrated into its social welfare system.
This marks the fifth year of Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer. In the past, they were unable to participate in the mechanisms and meetings of the WHO. Taiwan has made considerable progress in many types of international cooperation on health matters.
In the 1960s; Taiwan was a recipient of international aid, which amounted to roughly 9 percent of GDP. Today, Taiwan is an active giver of humanitarian aid, annually donating the equivalent of 0.1 percent of GDP. Taiwan also participates in global health efforts, supporting the WHO and its global partners’ efforts to achieve health-related Millennium Development Goals.