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Taiwan, a well-kept healthcare secret


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Taiwan is arguably "one of Asia's best-kept healthcare secrets", writes Josef Woodman in the Taiwan edition of Patients Beyond Borders, the most trusted resource in medical travel.   

"I was greeted by a first-world nation, modern bustling cities, relentlessly hard-working people, high-speed bullet trains traversing the country, and – above all – dozens of first-rate medical facilities – universities, research centres, health parks and more – that would do any medical destination proud," continues Woodman, who visited Taiwan in 2007 to gain firsthand experience of medical travel in the East Asian country.   

The author goes on to say that good reasons abound for millions – if not hundreds of millions – of patients to appreciate Taiwan's medical offerings.  

"We are receiving patients from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mongolia and some other countries," says Jing Hsiao, manager of International Medical Service Centre, at the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), which has accomplished many firsts not only in Asia but in the world.

In 2012, the facility became the first in Asia to successfully complete robotic assisted kidney transplantation. It also performed Asia's first successful artificial heart transplant in 1996 and in 2000 it did successful heart transplant for the lowest body weight recipient in Asia.

In the same year, it performed successful heart transplantation on the youngest patient (6 months of age) in Asia, and in 2010, it celebrated the longest living (14 years) lung transplant recipient in the continent.

Established in 1895, NTUH is the cradle of modern clinical medicine in Taiwan, as it has led the country in the development of medical education and nurtured numerous healthcare professionals since the end of nineteenth century.

Speaking to Times of Oman, Jing said that it is the biggest university in Taiwan but there are private hospitals which are bigger than NTUH. It includes a children's hospital as well.

"Each year around 150 students study at this university hospital," she said.

The research achievements of NTUH between 2001 and 2011 ranked 78th in the world in terms of publications.According to her, 8,000 outpatients are treated in the 2,000-bed facility every month.

The hospital offers a wide range of efficient and reasonably priced treatments and its specialists have great expertise in cardiovascular diseases and open heart surgery, hepatitis treatment, infertility treatment, minimally invasive surgery, organ transplantation, joint replacement, cancer treatment, robotic surgery, assisted reproduction and other complex or rare disorders treatment.

In 2010 it became the first public hospital in Taiwan to be accredited by Joint Commission International (JCI). International patients
According to Jing, the hospital receives 500 foreign patients every month, which include expatriates living in the country. "We also receive many referral cases from other parts of Taiwan or other countries."

She said that the hospital's international centre provides patients with all the necessary information before they travel to Taiwan and can help them arrange accommodations.  

"We have international cooperation with a number of countries, including in Europe and are keen to foster cooperation with hospitals in the Middle East," she noted.

Cooperation opportunity
"We do like to cooperate with Oman and other Arab countries," she said, adding that opportunities for cooperation between Taiwan and the Sultanate in the healthcare sector should be explored.

Thailand is known as a medical destination for many Arabs and Taiwan has the potential to become another popular destination for them, she said.  

According to Sulaiman bin Sultan Al Mughairy, director of the Commercial Office of the Sultanate of Oman in Taiwan, medical facilities in Taiwan are interested in cooperating with Oman.  

He says that Chang Gung Memorial Hospital has expressed willingness to provide medical treatment to Omanis or provide technical consultations and transfer know-how to health authorities and hospitals in Oman.

The hospital is the largest hospital in Taiwan with 3,700 beds and is the second largest internationally. It is composed of six branches in the country with total 10,000 beds in Taiwan.

Liver transplant
Commenting on the liver transplant, which the hospital is famous for, Jing said that the donor should be a family member. She also noted that Taiwan's healthcare system is one of the best as all hospitals are covered by the National Health Insurance programme.

"So there is no big difference between public and private hospitals. Our residents are free to choose whatever hospital they want."  

Economist's 'World Healthy Nations 2000' report chose Taiwan as the world's second healthiest country.

"Taiwan is very much a player on the worldwide healthcare front, and the country's influence will become increasingly apparent in all areas of medical care, including research, manufacturing, healthcare services and more," writes the author of Patients Beyond Borders.


To get in touch with the reporter: elham@timesofoman.com

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