Look to Taiwan for model health cover

UNIVERSAL health coverage is one of the core principles of the World Health Organisation, as specified in the global body's constitution. To promote this concept around the world in line with the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), the WHO advocates essential coverage and services across 16 indicators in four categories.

As the first country in Asia to implement a national health insurance, Taiwan has achieved exceptional results in these areas. In addition, with the NHI in place for more than two decades, Taiwan has accumulated extensive expertise that can benefit countries working to implement similar programmes. Taiwan is ready and willing to share its experiences so as to assist nations in achieving the third SDG of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. When it comes to realising health for all, Taiwan can help.

In line with the international effort to achieve the sustainable development goals and ensure that people of all ages, especially infants and children, have access to medical services, Taiwan's medical teams have seen service in nations particularly in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the South Pacific. Acting both in residence and as mobile medical teams, these professionals have provided clinical care, offered sanitation education, and provided training in midwifery and medical management to improve the health of pregnant women and infants.

In Burkina Faso, Taiwan's medical personnel treat about 14,000 patients each year. And, since 2006, over 100 mobile medical teams have been dispatched to more than 20 countries in Africa, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, benefiting over 150,000 people. Private charitable groups from Taiwan also run free clinics all over the world.

Since the 1980s, Taiwan has been active in providing nations struck by natural disasters with medical aid and relief supplies, and helping them rebuild. Accumulated government and private donations provided by Taiwan now total over US$1 billion. The results of Taiwan's efforts in this vein can be seen the world over.

Taiwan's private organisations have grown prodigiously since the 1990s, and often send humanitarian medical teams abroad to work in disadvantaged communities. Their commitment to saving lives has done them, and the nation, proud. In 2016, for example, a young girl from Vietnam with lymphatic filariasis, as well as a Cambodian boy with a congenital heart problem, were successfully treated in Taiwan.

Beginning in 2009, the WHO invited Taiwan to take part in the World Health Assembly for eight consecutive years, bridging the gap in global health cooperation and epidemic prevention. Taiwan has won widespread international recognition for its professional participation.

Despite obstacles, Taiwan looks for continued participation, with the support of the international community and all relevant parties, in WHA and WHO-related meetings, mechanisms, and activities in line with the principles of professionalism, pragmatism, and making contributions, and seeks to work with countries to realise the UN sustainable development goals.

Liu Bang-chuan
Senior Adviser
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia