Sat, Jan 26, 2008 - Page 2 News List

CDC travelers' clinic to close as eight hospitals take over

ONE-STOP SERVICE The CDC traveler clinic will cease operations on Feb. 1 and the hospitals nationwide will pick up where the clinic left off

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eight hospitals around the nation have opened clinics for travelers, taking over duties performed by the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) travelers' clinic.

CDC Deputy Director Lin Ting (林頂) said that the center's travel clinic will cease operations next Friday as the center cooperates with hospitals to provide the necessary medical care for those about to travel abroad.

"We have not been able to provide comprehensive medical service for those wishing to travel [abroad] because we are confined to providing only services that relate to disease control," he said. "However, there are many other potential medical needs for travelers, especially those traveling while afflicted with chronic diseases."

The recently opened Training Center for Travel Medicine at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) is one of the eight travel medicine clinics co-sponsored by the CDC that Lin said he hopes will be able to provide "one-stop service" for travelers' medical needs. The center is operated by the general medicine department of the hospital.

"General practitioners are well-suited to this area of medicine because they pay attention to every aspect of the patient's well-being," said Department of Health Minister Hou Sheng-mou (侯勝茂) at yesterday's inauguration ceremony for the center.

Of the eight clinics, the training center will be the only one that will conduct research into travel medicine and train medical professionals on how to better serve patients who are leaving the country or have just returned.

"Infectious diseases that have been eradicated in this country -- such as malaria, yellow fever and some forms of infectious encephalitis -- are one concern because they may still be common in some countries," said Huang Kuo-chin (黃國晉), a general practitioner with NTUH.

Other hospitals around the country provide travel clinics that are not yet a part of the NT$5 million (US$150,000) CDC project and may be included if they can meet CDC standards, Lin said.

"Obviously, the more clinics we have, the more travelers we can serve," Lin said.

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