NTUH opens new special needs oral healthcare center

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 - Page 2

Taiwan’s fourth oral healthcare center exclusively for patients with special needs opened in Taipei yesterday to provide better facilities and dental treatment, a health official said.

Although it was not the first one established in the country, National Taiwan University Hospital’s (NTUH) Oral Health Care Center for Special Needs is the first of its kind to offer overall medical care with integrated professional divisions, said Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director--general of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs.

NTUH has been providing dental treatment to patients with special needs since 1988 and has been improving its facilities ever since, the hospital said.

The health department provided NT$24.5 million (US$847,000) to build the 231m2 center to take care of patients that have a multitude of disabilities, including cerebral paralysis, autism and other diseases. The new hospital provides a comfortable and suitable environment that enhances their dental treatment, Shih said.

Lin Hung-chin (林宏欽), former chairman of the Taiwan Dental Association’s Committee of Oral Health for People with Disabilities, said he was excited about the new center, and he hoped it could make up for the “extreme” insufficiency of oral healthcare centers in Taiwan.

There are 1.08 million people with disabilities in Taiwan, but there are only four healthcare centers that are specially tailored for them, he said.

Citing statistics provided by the health department, Lin said 43 percent of people in Taiwan have their dental treatment covered by national health insurance (NHI), while less than 5 percent of patients with special needs are benefiting from the NHI.

For their special conditions, some patients choose not to get medical treatment. Others get turned down at small clinics that do not have adequate facilities. Many have to wait in pain for a long time to see a dentist, Lin said.