Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

New chief takes over at the DOH

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister without Portfolio Hu Shan-jen, left, and the new director-general of the Cabinet's Department of Health, Chen Chien-jen, center, say goodbye to former director-general Twu Shiing-jer after a handover ceremony yesterday.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

New Director-General of the Department of Health (DOH) Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the first person without a doctor's background to take charge of the department, said yesterday that the country had created public-health miracles before and that the public should have the confidence to win the battle against SARS.

He added that the most immediate goal is to prevent in-hospital infection from occurring again.

"Right now we are not fighting SARS, but human weakness," he said.

"It is because of human weakness that people try to hide their own illness when they contract SARS. It also prevents medical staff from standing up and doing their jobs," he said.

Chen said that he would attempt to do his best at his new post.

Chen was speaking at a ceremony to officially mark the handover from former director Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲).

Chen also said the department was still dealing with other matters, and that civil servants should not neglect these issues.

Speaking about the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA), which Chen is due to attend, the new director said that Taiwan's wish to become an observer of the World Health Organization was because of health, and not political, concerns.

Chen will be leaving soon for the WHA in Geneva, which starts tomorrow.

Outgoing director Twu expressed his continuing support for those fighting SARS.

"Although I am no longer director, I am ready to come back as a volunteer to join the battle again," he said.

"As a government official I have to take responsibility for the SARS outbreak, but as a doctor I can still fight for the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director-General of the DOH Lee Lung-teng (李龍騰) revealed that he offered his written resignation to Twu one month ago.

"I was feeling frustrated with my work, and I could not complete my mission. I felt that I could not face the director-general," Lee said.

"However the director-general thought my resignation was unnecessary and declined it," he said.

Lee added that his future in the health department now rests with Chen.

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