Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Yu accepts DOH chief's resignation

FIGHT AGAINST SARS Department of Health Director-General Twu Shiing-jer quit yesterday to take responsibility for the deaths of health workers from the virus

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Chia-wei, director of the National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, introduces a model of a coronavirus at the opening ceremony of a SARS exhibition yesterday. The exhibition is scheduled to run through Nov. 16.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday confirmed that Department of Health (DOH) Director-General Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) had tendered his resignation and that Chen Chien-jen, vice chairman of the National Science Council, would be nominated to replace him as the nation's top health official.

"Twu called me late Thursday night to say he was quitting and submitted a formal resignation to me this morning," Yu said.

Yu also appointed Su I-jen (蘇益仁), director of the National Health Research Institutes' Division of Clinical Research, to replace Center for Disease Control Director-General Chen Tzay-jinn's (陳再晉), who has also offered to resign.

Twu said he must take responsibility for the deaths of doctors and nurses from SARS and the inability of health officials to provide enough protective gear for medical workers on the frontline of the SARS battle.

Chen Chien-jen, who is also the chairman of the Cabinet's SARS Advisory Committee, had previously been named by President Chen Shui-bian to lead the official delegation going to Geneva for the World Health Assembly meeting which starts on Monday.

"Facing the new task [as DOH chief], my departure for Geneva is bound to be postponed," Chen Chien-jen said yesterday.

He had been scheduled to leave for Geneva on Monday.

Chen Chien-jen, 52, is the nation's leading epidemiologist as well as a senior research fellow at Academic Sinica. His is also responsible for reviewing the daily SARS situation in the country and advising the government on how to control the epidemic.

He earned a master's degree in public health from National Taiwan University in 1977 and then received a doctorate in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University in 1982.

The Presidential Office confirmed Chen Chien-jen's official nomination as head of the DOH last night.

Twu said yesterday that he would still be involved in the anti-SARS campaign.

"I will not retreat from front-line SARS-fighting work," Twu said after TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) asked whether he would continue to combat the epidemic.

Meanwhile, the DPP announced yesterday that its deputy secretary-general, Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), will join the Cabinet's SARS Contingency Committee.

"Starting today, Lee will participate in the Cabinet's SARS-prevention team on a temporary-transfer basis until the end of June," DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said.

Lee, who holds a master's degree in public health from Harvard University and received a doctorate in health economics from the University of North Carolina, will serve as a special consultant to the chief of the committee, Lee Ming-liang (李明亮).

Lee Ying-yuan's role as spokesperson for the DPP and his other party duties will be handled by another deputy secretary-general, Lee Ching-yung (李進勇).

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