Tue, Oct 30, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Taiwanese, Italian groups sign MOU with Stella to support medical care

COMMEMORATION:This year’s Carlo Urbani Award, named after the late doctor who first identified SARS, went to two people, who would be given scholarships

Staff writer, with CNA

A Taiwanese and an Italian association named after Italian epidemiologist Carlo Urbani yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vietnamese drugmaker Stella to support medical care programs in Vietnam in commemoration of Urbani, who first identified SARS.

Stella is to provide generic drugs for medical cooperation projects initiated by the associations in Vietnam over the next three years, Carlo Urbani Association Taiwan president Giovanni Juang (莊振澤) told a news conference.

The MOU was signed by representatives from the Carlo Urbani Association Taiwan, Carlo Urbani Association Italy and Stella Vietnam, and was witnessed by members of Urbani’s family and Donato Scioscioli, head of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei.

Urbani, a WHO infectious disease specialist who was stationed in Hanoi, first alerted the world to a pneumonia-like emerging disease in February 2003 that was later identified as SARS.

His early warning might have saved millions of lives, but Urbani was infected with the virus while treating SARS patients and died in Bangkok on March 29, 2003, at the age of 46.

The SARS epidemic gripped Taiwan in the first half of 2003, but the outbreak was eventually contained.

According to WHO data for that year, there were 346 SARS cases and 37 deaths caused by the virus in Taiwan.

Urbani is highly respected by many Taiwanese for the contributions and sacrifice he made to control the SARS outbreak, Scioscioli said.

The MOU marks a concrete approach to commemorating Urbani for what he did, Scioscioli said, adding that the memorandum might have a positive influence in the medical care field.

Juang and the Taiwanese association’s honorary president Chi Cheng (紀政) also announced the winners of the annual Carlo Urbani Award.

The award went to Shi Ping-wei (石品薇), a graduate of National Taiwan University’s Department of Public Health, and Chu Yi-ching (曲怡靜), a graduate of National Chiayi University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine.

They would be given scholarships to study infectious diseases at tropical medicine research centers in Africa, Juang said.

An English-language biography of Urbani, titled Doctor Without Borders, was also unveiled at the news conference.

Chi said she was touched by Urbani’s autobiography because it showed his love for the world, adding that she hopes Juang’s dream of building a hospital in Vietnam to continue Urbani’s work could be fulfilled.

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