Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Medical missions to head overseas

HELPING ALLIES Mission teams bound for Guatemala and Haiti will depart on Sunday to provide medical aid and supplies for more than two weeks, the ICDF said

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Two mobile medical missions will depart on Sunday for Haiti and Guatemala to help Taiwan’s allies deal with the aftermath of recent natural disasters, the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) said yesterday.

The mobile medical missions, consisting of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and nurses from the Taipei-based Wan Fang Hospital and Taipei Medical University Hospital, will remain in the affected countries for more than two weeks, providing medical assistance and supplies at the request of the two allies, ICDF Deputy Secretary-General Lee Pai-po (李柏浡) said.

A series of devastating storms killed nearly 800 Haitians and left hundreds injured in August and September, while approximately 500 students and teachers perished when a school in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince collapsed earlier this month.

In Guatemala, a week of incessant rain last month led to widespread flooding and landslides, resulting in a shortage of basic supplies, especially medical supplies, which Lee said prompted Taiwan to offer assistance to its Central American ally.

In Haiti, the medical team will also visit the poor areas of Port-au-Prince to provide much-needed medical care, Lee said.

He said that having dispatched 16 teams so far this year to 11 countries, including one non-ally, the ICDF would not send out any other international missions this year, apart from these two.

Some 150 medical personnel from 20 hospitals in Taiwan have participated in the ICDF’s overseas aid programs this year, which have benefited more than 25,000 people, he said.

The two medical teams are scheduled to return from Haiti and Guatemala on Dec. 9 and Dec. 7, respectively, Lee added.

The ICDF is assigned by the government to provide technical assistance, investment and loans, international human resources and humanitarian aid to countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan as well as those that do not, once they are considered in need of international aid.

The ICDF sent its first mobile medical mission to northern India in December 2005, and as of the end of last year had dispatched a total of 32 medical teams overseas.

In related news, the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China has donated comforters to survivors of the Sichuan earthquake in China to help people there get through the first winter since the disaster, an executive of the organization said yesterday.

The organization on Monday presented 2,120 double-sized comforters, each weighing 3kg, to its Sichuan counterpart, which will help to distribute the covers to those in need, the executive said.

Sichuan was rocked by an 8-magnitude earthquake on May 12, with the epicenter located in Wenchuan County of Sichuan’s Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture.

Official Chinese figures show that, as of Nov. 20, the death toll from the quake was 69,180, with 17,398 missing and the injured numbering 374,008.

The Red Cross executive said that even after six months, many people were still living in difficult circumstances, as transportation remained a big problem in many areas, especially in the mountain villages of Mao County.

The earthquake destroyed or damaged some 53,295km of roads in Sichuan Province, while the homes of 2,105 families in Mao County collapsed or were seriously damaged.

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