Sun, Jan 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Aid workers join relief effort in Indonesia

DOING THEIR PART In the latest of several missions, Taiwan deployed doctors and other relief workers to help prevent the spread of disease in disaster-struck areas

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Taiwan's national medical relief team yesterday arrived in Aceh, Indonesia, one of the areas hardest-hit by last Sunday's earthquake and ensuing tidal waves.

The seven member rescue team sent by the Department of Health will set up a makeshift medical base near the Aceh airport. Another five Taiwanese doctors remained in Medan, a city just outside Aceh province to coordinate relief efforts.

The Department of Health will also dispatch a third medical relief team to the tsunami-ravaged Thai resort area of Phuket on Jan. 4 at the earliest. The third national medical relief team will bring a supply of anti-malaria medication and disinfectants to help prevent a possible outbreak of contagious diseases in Phuket.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was in Banda Aceh to inspect the aftermath of the disaster, expressed his gratitude for the assistance and supplies provided by Taiwan.

In related news, a 42-member medical mission organized by the non-governmental organization Taiwan Roots Medical Peace Corps left yesterday for Sri Lanka to help victims of the tsunami disaster there.

The group will deliver 2,500kg of medicine and other medical supplies.

Corps head Liu Chi-hsiang (劉啟群) said the mission's priority is to prevent an outbreak of infectious diseases. Members of the mission include 14 physicians specializing in general medicine and infectious diseases.

While this is the the corp's 126th overseas medical aid mission, the organization made two other medical missions to Sri Lanka last year, Liu said.

The group is set to return to Taiwan on Jan. 9.

The state-run Chunghwa Telecom, in collaboration with the Council of Labor Affairs, has begun offering subscribers five-minute toll-free phone calls to countries ravaged by the tsunamis, the company's chairman Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) said yesterday.

Under the terms of the offer, Ho Chen said at a news conference, any subscriber's first call each day with the 019 prefix to Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives will be free of charge for the first five minutes. The offer will run through Jan. 7.

Given that Taiwan has 28,000 Indonesian workers and about 100,000 Thai workers, Ho Chen urged their employers to tell them of the program, adding that Chunghwa will also set up service stations in Taipei, Taoyuan, Yunlin and Kaohsiung counties, all of which have large populations of foreign workers.

He estimated that the program will cost his company about NT$10 million (US$314,911).

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