Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Epidemic prevention gets financial shot in the arm

HEALTHCARE On the same day the SARS prevention committee disbanded, the DOH announced NT$23 billion for improving the epidemic-prevention system

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Department of Health (DOH) announced yesterday that NT$23 billion will be spent on reforming the country's epidemic-prevention system and establishing clinics for infectious diseases.

The Cabinet's SARS prevention committee also disbanded yesterday as committee head Lee Ming-liang (李明亮) received a CD-ROM entitled "In the frontline of fighting against epidemics" and a collection of SARS news clips from the DOH at a press conference.

"Hopefully, I won't be asked to come back again," Lee said.

Lee, who stepped down from his post last year, was ordered in early May to replace his successor, former DOH head Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), to head the Cabinet's committee to fight against SARS.

Lee said he would never forget the nightmare at the Hwa Chang Public Housing Complex in Taipei City in early May, which put more than 300 residents into home quarantine.

To express his appreciation to key figures in anti-SARS battle, Lee presented gifts to Taipei City Bureau of Health Director Chang Heng (張珩), doctors of National Taiwan University Hospital Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) and Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), as well as Li Chien-ting (李建廷), who was in charge of dealing with SARS in southern Taiwan.

DOH Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said further efforts are needed in the country's healthcare system.

According to Chen, the DOH will spend NT$23 billion to reform the epidemic-prevention system.

He said that 19 SARS hospitals will be transformed back to regular facilities while four to six new special hospitals for infectious diseases would be established around the country.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH yesterday released statistics suggesting the mortality rate from SARS in Taiwan is about 10 percent.

According to the CDC, there were 3,033 SARS reports filed between March 14 and July 14. They include 617 probable cases and 1,349 suspected cases.

Among them, health officials said, 84 patients are confirmed to have died of SARS, while other 75 deaths of people infected by the SARS virus could be attributed to other diseases. In addition, 34 deaths were linked to other causes, such as suicide.

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