Department of Health (DOH)Minister Chen Chien-jen (
Chen said the recent SARS outbreak has exposed many holes in Taiwan's existing health administrative network.
"We ought to plug these up in preparation for a possible SARS comeback," Chen said, adding that the restructuring plan is also aimed at crafting a better response to an outbreak of any other communicable disease.
The planned overhaul will be yet another epidemic-inspired massive restructuring by the health department since an enterovirus outbreak in 1998. The department's Center for Disease Control (CDC) came into being after the enterovirus outbreak which claimed the lives of scores of young children.
Chen said the SARS outbreak has shed light on flaws and deficiencies in local hospital management which resulted in cluster SARS transmissions inside several medical facilities.
Against this backdrop, Chen said, the DOH's Bureau of Medical Affairs will be transformed into a health care service administrative agency to tighten supervision of in-hospital epidemic control and medical staff training.
"Hospital management will never be the same in the wake of the recent SARS outbreak," Chen said, adding that major SARS precautions, such as fever screening stations, fever-screening at emergency wards and daily temperature-taking on inpatients, must remain in place.
For its part, Chen said, his department will organize regular infection-control training courses for infectious diseases clinicians and other health care providers to prevent the recurrence of cluster transmissions of any communicable disease inside hospitals.
Chen also said the DOH will merge sanitation, pharmaceutical affairs, controlled drugs bureau and laboratories into a food and drug administrative agency similar to the US Food and Drug Administration.