Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

SARS prompts an overall review of response systems

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

Vice Minister of National Defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) visited the Taipei City Government yesterday to examine emergency response systems.

During the visit, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) asked Lin to push for better coordination and integration of emergency response systems at central and local levels.

Ma said the recent SARS outbreak demonstrated the importance of coordinating different levels of disaster-response systems.

Poor coordination between central and municipal health agencies limited the effectiveness of Taipei's campaign to contain SARS, which led to the disease spreading to the rest of the country in late April.

Lin said the nation's emergency-response system was originally designed to deal with military conflict.

"The SARS outbreak and the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001 have highlighted the need to overhaul our emergency response and disaster-relief systems," Lin said.

He said the Ministry of National Defense would take into account Ma's suggestion in drafting a comprehensive restructuring plan and work out new standard operating procedures and regulations.

"We'll also push for better coordination among government agencies at various levels," Lin said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government yesterday launched the Mobile Epidemic Prevention Squad, a medical team to deal with epidemics.

The bureau decided to create the squad according to the Communicable Disease Prevention Law."

"The formation of the squad sounds the horn of our counterattack on SARS," said Chang Heng (張珩), the director of the health bureau.

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