Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Medical talent lauded in documentary

MOSQUITO MAN:A doctor who helped eradicate malaria in Taiwan in 1965 used his skills to reduce the disease to zero reported cases in Sao Tome and Principe in 2003

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Vice President Chen Chien-jen, second left, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee, second right, and guests on Tuesday attend a premiere in Taipei for a two-part television documentary about Taiwan’s medical contributions to public health worldwide.

Photo: CNA

A two-part documentary showcasing nine of Taiwan’s medical achievements, breakthroughs and international contributions is to debut on Wednesday next week, the Discovery Channel said at a premiere event in Taipei on Tuesday.

The documentary, titled Taiwan Revealed: Medical Elite, is the third in a series made in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The seris aims to introduce Taiwan’s diverse culture and world-class achievements in various fields to the world through the Discovery Channel’s international platform.

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), a public health specialist who was among those interviewed in the documentary, said that “in the past, the international community helped Taiwan eradicate several communicable diseases. Today, as a nation with advanced medicine and healthcare, Taiwan is returning the favor.”

He said that in the past 50 years, Taiwan has managed or controlled more than a dozen communicable diseases, including malaria, black-foot disease and polio, which was achieved with foreign assistance and the diligence of Taiwan’s medical practitioners.

“Lien Jih-ching (連日清) is a specialist in mosquito-borne diseases and helped eradicate malaria in Taiwan by reducing the number of endemic cases from more than 1 million to zero within a decade,” Chen said, adding that Lien helped Taiwan become the first nation in the world to be declared “malaria-free” by the WHO in 1965.

“People call me the ‘mosquito man,’” said Lien, who is nearly 90 years old.

Lien also helped to significantly reduce the prevalence of malaria in Sao Tome and Principe — an island nation in western Africa — as depicted in the second part of the documentary.

“The prevalence of malaria was about 40 percent in 2000 … after we applied mosquito prevention measures, the numbers of patients hospitalized for malaria in Sao Tome and Principe dropped to zero in 2003,” Lien said in the documentary.

The use of an insecticide called dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane is credited with the eradication of malaria in Taiwan, but it was not as effective in Sao Tome and Principe, Lien said, adding that he instead used alpha-cypermethrin, which had proven effective in southern Taiwan against dengue fever.

Other stories include that of Chang Yu-tai (張裕泰) who has led a medical mission in Sao Tome and Principe since 2010, hoping to improve local healthcare, Tu Yong-kwang (杜永光), who in the documentary is seen helping restore the eyesight of a person with a rare condition using extremely difficult surgery, and Chang Mei-hwei (張美惠), who developed the world’s first “newborn stool color screening card” that allows for the early detection of biliary atresia in infants.

Episode one covers the invention of high-tech “smart” glasses that allow surgeons to see real-time X-ray images while performing surgery; Chen Yuan-tsong (陳垣崇), whose medical team spent 15 years developing a cure for Pompe disease, making Taiwan the first nation to offer newborns screening for the disease; and Lo Lun-jou (羅綸洲) who has had medical missions in Cambodia since 1999, performing reconstructive surgeries on people with orofacial clefts.

Also featured Chen Hung-chi (陳宏基), a doctor who developed the world’s first autotransplantation of small intestine for vocal cord reconstruction, and the invention of a mobility assistive exosuit by the Industrial Technology Research Institute that helps patients with spinal cord injuries stand again.

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