Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Public health must stress prevention

By Chen Meei-shia 陳美霞

The fact that our public-health system almost crashed under the pressures brought on it by the SARS epidemic finally highlighted the system's faults. Disease prevention is the collective responsibility of society -- not each individual's own affair. A strong public-health system is absolutely necessary for successful disease prevention and this involves massive workloads.

To reform our public-health system, we first need to change the ideology of "market individualism" that dominates the system. This will be a difficult task and the Cabinet will have to adopt a whole new way of thinking. Of course, we also have to carry out structural reforms on the existing system -- especially on the excessive "medicalization" of the public-health system. Countless obstacles and challenges are all involved in this task -- such as various tangled interests, a rigid personnel system, health professionals' long-accumulated laziness and conflicts and negotiations among Cabinet ministries and agencies.

The Cabinet needs to have incomparable resolve in order to deal with this significant social reform project.

Chen Meei-shia is the director of the department of public health at National Cheng Kung University.

TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG

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