Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) yesterday became the nation’s first healthcare provider to have three of its facilities certified Muslim-friendly.
Taiwan is home to about 300,000 Muslims, hospital superintendent Chiou Jeng-fong (邱仲峯) said, adding that many of them are migrants who take care of people with disabilities.
Last year, the hospital offered healthcare services to about 17,000 foreigners, many of whom were Muslims, he said.
“This led us to launch a program this year to make our facilities, signs and directories Muslim-friendly,” he said.
While most hospitals have prayer facilities for Muslims, they do not provide for their dietary needs, Chiou said.
TMUH has a cooking area with halal-certified seasonings and ingredients where Muslims can use pots and utensils not used by non-Muslims, he said.
The hospital’s Third Medical Building has a second-floor lavatory and prayer room for Muslims with prayer mats, prayer schedules and signs indicating the direction of Mecca, he said.
There is a wash area where Muslims can perform their ablutions before praying, he said.
The hospital’s First Medical Building has a snack area with halal-certified food, he said.
“We hope that other hospitals in the TMUH system will obtain halal certifications for their facilities,” Chiou added.
Jeff Tsai (蔡劼甫), an imam with Islamic Commercial Development Ltd, said that Muslims often have trouble dining out or shopping for food.
“Not only do the food ingredients and seasonings need to be halal-certified, but the animals they eat must be raised and slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. Because of the restriction, they normally just eat vegetarian food when they dine out,” Tsai said, adding that most Muslims do not expect hospitals to offer halal-certified food.
TMUH is the first hospital to consider the dietary needs of Muslim patients, Tsai said, adding that the hospital’s Muslim-friendly facilities would attract more Muslim patients to the hospital.
Taiwan has been stepping up efforts to draw tourists from Muslim-majority nations over the past few years.
The Tourism Bureau has been working with the Taipei-based Chinese Muslim Association to regularly recognize centralized kitchens, guesthouses, hotels, leisure farms, restaurants and theme parks that have obtained halal certification.
In 2016, the Cingshuei Service Area on the Formosa Freeway (Freeway No. 3) became the first Taiwanese freeway rest area to install a Muslim prayer room.
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