In an effort to help students of public health apply their expertise in the workplace and enable the nation to face the challenges posed by new epidemics, lawmakers yesterday passed the Public Health Specialists Act (公共衛生師法), touting it as the first of its kind in Asia.
Under the act, those who pass an exam for public health specialists and have received a certificate can practice the profession. Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher in public health who have graduated from a local university or college, or an equivalent foreign institution recognized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, are eligible.
Those who have graduated from the aforementioned institutions, but whose major was medicine or subjects related to public health, must have obtained at least 18 credits or have worked in public health for at least three years before they can take the test, it states.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
Local and foreign public health specialists must join a union, and abide by the nation’s laws and code of ethics governing public health specialists, as well as the charter of the national public health specialists union, the act states.
Public health specialists can work at medical facilities and long-term care facilities, or set up their own firm after practicing for two years, it states, while qualified medical personnel can double as public health specialists, but the latter must not perform the tasks of medical personnel.
The responsibilities of public health specialists include conducting environmental health risk assessments, pathological investigations, health surveys, food safety inspections and other tasks outlined by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in communities and public spaces, it states.
They should propose plans to prevent health risks and diseases, ensure food safety and boost public health, it states.
In the event of a major public health incident, emergency or contingency, the ministry can enlist a public health specialist to perform any of the aforementioned tasks, it states.
The specialist cannot reject the request without a valid reason; and those who contravene the regulation would face a fine of NT$20,000 to NT$100,000, and could be suspended for one month to one year.
Public health specialists who illegally lend their licenses to others would have their licenses revoked, the act states.
The passage of the act represents the fruition of a legislative effort that began in 2000 when the Taiwan Public Health Association began lobbying, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) said after the bill passed its third reading.
The world has faced a host of new epidemics in the past 20 years, such as SARS, Ebola and COVID-19, she said, adding that the increasingly daunting challenges posed by these diseases highlight the importance of professional civil servants.
The nation’s first public health colleges were established in 1972, but unlike medical colleges they were not covered by an education, testing, internship and recruitment system, Su said.
The act has established a professional system for public health personnel without affecting the rights of those already working in the sector, she said.
The number of people from Hong Kong applying for residency in Taiwan last year rose 41 percent from a year earlier to 5,858, National Immigration Agency statistics showed. The statistics also showed that 600 applications were filed by Hong Kong residents in the first quarter of this year — three times the number filed in the same period last year — with applicants apparently not deterred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just one day after it was reported that the Chinese government plans to enact new national security laws in Hong Kong, inquiries regarding immigration to Taiwan grew 10-fold, a Hong Kong-based immigration
‘BEGINNING OF THE END’: Democracy advocate Joshua Wong urged Hong Kongers to stand up and fight, and let the Chinese government know that they will not cave Hong Kong protesters yesterday battled with riot police in busy downtown areas, showing their opposition toward China’s dramatic move to crack down on dissent in the biggest demonstration since the coronavirus swept through the territory in January. Police deployed a water cannon and fired tear gas in the Causeway Bay shopping area after hundreds of protesters had gathered to oppose new national security legislation from China. Police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal gathering, and later said in a statement that “rioters threw umbrellas, water bottles and other objects at them.” At least 120 people were arrested,
‘TAIWAN IS SAFE’: As there have been no new local cases for 42 days, people should feel free to travel around the nation — as long as they follow disease prevention rules No new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday and only 20 of the people hospitalized after testing positive are still being treated in hospitals, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) as he promoted a “new disease prevention lifestyle” for the nation. As yesterday was the 42nd consecutive day with no new domestic cases, and experts consider 28 consecutive days with no domestic case — the span of two incubation periods — a sign that a community is relatively safe, Taiwan is safe, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC),
SMOOTHER TRANSIT: Japan Airlines reportedly planned to land the flight at Haneda Airport, but changed it to Narita for direct flights to Taiwan The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked Japan for allowing 94 Taiwanese on a chartered plane evacuating others stranded in Russia, where COVID-19 cases are rising and many international flights have been canceled. Ninety-four Taiwanese exchange students and expats, as well as two Russian spouses, arrived at Narita International Airport in Japan yesterday morning on a charter flight operated by Japan Airlines, before taking a transfer flight to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport last night, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said. As of press time last night, Russia had reported more than 362,000 cases of COVID-19, including more than 3,800 deaths. The government had