Mon, Jun 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Health minister rebuffs Han’s attack about dengue fever-fighting funding

PLAYING POLITICS?Chen Shih-chung said there should not be a big war of words about who pays for disease prevention efforts, or a pan-blue or pan-green divide

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A Kaohsiung City government worker fumigates the area around Chin Shi Hu Market on Friday as part of measures to contain an outbreak of dengue fever.

Photo: CNA

Local and central governments must cooperate in disease prevention and stop their war of words over the handling of outbreaks of dengue fever, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday.

Reporters pressed him for comment after Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), in s speech to a Saturday evening campaign rally in Taichung, said thsy the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) central government was neglecting the dengue fever situation in Kaohsiung.

During a major dengue outbreak in Kaohsiung in 2015, the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) central government allocated resources in a timely fashion to fight it, but the current government is gloating over a rise in dengue cases in Kaohsiung and waiting to see Han make a fool of himself or for a disaster to occur, just because he is in another party, he said.

“The central and local governments must cooperate in disease prevention. It is the same throughout the nation, and each has their own duties that should be done properly,” Chen said. “It is important to take a step-by-step approach and have a planned strategy for disease prevention.”

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on May 14 received an official document from Kaohsiung asking for additional funds for dengue control and prevention, and worked over the following weekend to review the request so the subsidy could be granted by the Cabinet a few days after he approved it.

He gave approval for the full NT$2.5 million (US$80,257) subsidy that weekend, compared with NT$1.5 million granted to Kaohsiung at the point last year, and that additional subsidies could be granted depending on what happens this year, he said.

“There is definitely no difference between [local governments led by] pan-blue or pan-green camps,” he said. “There should not be a big war of words on the issue.”

The peak season in Taiwan for dengue is usually in September, so there should be medium and long-term strategies for dengue control, and subsidies should be used effectively, he added.

As for Han’s suggestion that the level of Jinshi Lake (金獅湖) be raised so there could be more fish to eat mosquito larvae, the city should consult experts to determine if that would be a good solution, Chen said.

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