The Taipei City Government is working with Taiwan Adventist Hospital to increase the number of Muslim-friendly hospitals as part of its efforts to make the nation’s capital a more Muslim-friendly city, the Taipei Department of Health said yesterday.
Taiwan Adventist Hospital is one of 17 hospitals and clinics in Taipei participating in the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s action plan for the internationalization of medical services, but it is the first to be officially certified as Muslim-friendly, said Chi Yu-chiu (紀玉秋), a health department section chief.
Last year’s edition of Global Muslim Travel Index, an annual report produced by MasterCard and CrescentRating, a Singapore-based consultancy specializing in Muslim travelers, ranked Taiwan fifth on the list of Muslim-friendly, non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member tourist destinations.
A survey conducted by the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism found that more than 90 percent of foreign visitors to Taiwan in the past four years visited Taipei, and the numbers of visitors increased each year, the health department said.
Between 2104 and last year, about 8,000 people from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Middle Eastern nations sought medical treatment in Taipei, and the majority of them were Muslims, Chi said.
Data from the Taiwan External Trade Development Council’s Taiwan Halal Center suggest there are about 300,000 Muslims living in Taiwan, Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Huang Shier-chieg (黃世傑) said.
Medical services should be provided to all people, regardless of nationality, ethnic background or religion, so the health department has been working with the private sector to create a more Muslim-friendly medical environment in the city, he said.
Taiwan Adventist Hospital president Huang Hui-ting (黃暉庭) said in November last year that it received Majelis Ulama Indonesia Halal certification from Indonesia’s main Islamic organization, showing that food, drugs and cosmetic products provided by the hospital are halal.
It received a good grade in implementing the Halal Assurance System standards, he said.
Its health examination center has a Muslim prayer room equipped with prayer rugs, copies of the Koran and washing facilities, while more than 200 Halal-certified dishes and snacks are available, he said.
The process for obtaining the halal certification was quite complicated, so the hospital sent personnel for outside training and established a specialized halal assurance team, he said.
It is willing to help other hospitals create Muslim-friendly environments and show them how to apply for halal certification, he added.
At an Eid-al-Fitr event at the Taipei Grand Mosque in July 2016, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) promised to make Taipei a “Muslim-friendly” city.
As part of that effort, the city government has held events to mark key Islamic holidays, promoted halal-certified restaurants and is introducing washing facilities for Muslims at the city’s mass rapid transit system stations, officials said.
More information about the city’s medical tourism efforts can be found on the health department’s dedicated Web site www.taipeimedicaltourism.org/, officials said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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