Wed, May 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

DOH chief says WHO is wrong

REBUTTAL The health minister said criticism of Taiwan's anti-SARS efforts by the global health body was totally unfounded

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The director-general of the Department of Health, Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), yesterday insisted, in the face of World Health Organization (WHO) statements to the contrary, that Taiwan's SARS epidemic had peaked.

"The spread of SARS has been on a downward trend since May 15," Chen said, adding that Taiwan had made all information about SARS in Taiwan available to the WHO to check.

Three days ago the WHO criticized Taiwan for allowing the rapid spread of the epidemic. The organization said some newly reported cases were the results of in-hospital infections, which suggested that Taiwan's epidemic control work was inadequate.

A former director of the Taipei City Government's Bureau of Health, Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), also said yesterday that the epidemic within Taipei City was "coming to an end."

"Although there may still be many reported cases, after these cases are examined, now there is only usually one or two found with the [SARS-causing] coronavirus every day," said Yeh.

Yeh said that Taipei had been quick in containing SARS, but the public should remain vigilant to prevent the epidemic from returning as had happened in Toronto.

King Chwan-chuen (金傳春), a professor at National Taiwan University's department of public health who has been helping the government in the battle against SARS, also said that Taiwan should bother itself overly with the WHO's comments.

"We know more than the WHO about the SARS situation in Taiwan, and we care more than the WHO about Taiwanese people's health," King said.

"The WHO should take note of the fact that Taiwan has been providing relevant information about SARS to them while it has failed to supply any information to Taiwan on request," King said.

"We do this because we hope to share our experiences with the world, helping other countries to prepare themselves," he added.

Yesterday saw 15 more probable SARS cases reported bringing the number to 596, while there were four more deaths bringing the total to 76.

In related news, Yeh was asked whether he would agree to take over the post of director of Taipei's Bureau of Health gain if Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) made such a request.

After the resignation of the previous director, Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) on Sunday, Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) is running the bureau temporarily, until a successor is found.

"The mayor has asked me already ... [but] I cannot treat Tzu-Chi University [where Yeh teaches] as my living room, going and leaving as I fancy. I am here to help Taipei City as an emergency firefighter. I cannot leave my favorite work for the bureau," Yeh said.

Meanwhile, more employees resigned from Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital yesterday. Sixty-two people handed in their resignations, including 15 doctors and 25 nurses.

Also see stories:

Battle against SARS heats up

Control Yuan faults hospital closure

Chen says Taiwan should be allowed into health body

Central area unveils new SARS center

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