How Taiwan’s successful health care system is formed on Japanese foundation

The healthcare system of Taiwan is ranked as the world’s best in the Numbeo Health Care Index.

Taiwan’s COVID-19 pandemic success is because of government’s fast action. It is commendable that Taiwan has controlled a pandemic that has killed a lot of people in many wealthy countries.

As stated by Lin Man-houng of the Academia Sinica’s Modern History Institute, Taiwan’s medical care system is derived from the Japanese efforts to control infectious diseases like malaria, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and bubonic plague that spread in the island because of its subtropical climate.

Taiwan was known as “the land of miasmal diseases,” The Qing Dynasty rulers did very less development in the country. Even saving the island proved tough for them. Many Chinese troops died, not in war, but from serious infection after they were sent to Taiwan in 1874 following the Mudan Incident, with Japanese invaders.

When China surrendered Japan and the island followed the First Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan’s new rulers seemed to have learned very less from their earlier experience, and there were 164 fatalities in fighting and 4,624 from what known as “Taiwan fever.” Amid the dead was Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa, the campaign’s head and a member from the Japan’s royal family.

Shimpei Goto, head of the new government’s Civil Affairs Bureau, put disease at the top of his list to handle in order to stabilise the Japanese rule in Taiwan.

Following the Meiji Restoration, Japanese administration sent students to study in Europe, where significant development was being made in controlling and treatment of severely infectious diseases in the country.

They also summoned Western experts to give suggestions and for teaching in the country.

In 1896, Scottish sanitary engineer William Burton came to Taiwan to supervise the construction of sewers and a new water treatment plant in Taipei, which led to dozens of similar projects across the island and leading to a constant decline in cholera.

The colonial government continued to construct hospitals and medical schools all-over Taiwan, with main facilities devoted in treating diseases like pneumonia and leprosy, as well as medical clinics in rural areas to provide vaccinations, health education and other fundamental services.

Japan evacuated from Taiwan in 1945. The Nationalist (KMT) government followed the same colonial pattern to develop the medical care system in the present time that has helped Taiwan to come out of the tough pandemic situations in the past.

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