The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported yesterday that a three-year-old boy died of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) last month in Kaohsiung County, the second death this year from the disease, which is caused by a type of enterovirus.
The boy came down with a fever and other HFMD-related symptoms on April 11. He was sent to a hospital the next day after he started having spasms. His condition then deteriorated and he fell into a coma before dying on April 15.
CDC director general Chou Chih-hao (周志浩) said yesterday that the boy has a five-year-old sister who had also contracted the virus. She also was sent to a hospital on April 13 after displaying similar symptoms. Her case was mild and she is now recovering, Chou said.
As of yesterday, a total of 60 cases of patients with HFMD symptoms have been reported this year, resulting in two deaths.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan Community Hospital Association will stage a walkout today to protest against the misappropriation of medical resources.
The association’s honorary chairman Hsieh Wen-hui (謝文輝) said yesterday doctors in community hospitals offer frontline medical services to residents living in the countryside as well as in remote areas.
Department of Health ministers, however, commonly just review the nation’s medical system based on what they see in Taipei.
Hsieh said that large medical centers were able to get wholesale drug prices from pharmaceutical companies simply because of the large quantity they order.
This has also allowed them to earn from the difference between the wholesale price and the standard price approved by the Bureau of National Health Insurance, he said.
Hsieh said that the number of community hospitals had dwindled from about 750 in 1989 to approximately 250.
Hsieh said that it has been increasingly difficult for smaller hospitals to purchase medication in large quantities, so the profit they could make was limited.
The plight of community hospitals was made worse when the bureau decided to cut the standard drug price, he said.
The association also said that it hoped that 20 percent of the earnings from selling drugs could be used to subsidize community hospitals.