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Here’s Why Taiwan Is One of the Healthiest Countries in the World

2016 New Year's Eve fireworks at Taipei 101 Building. (Image: Taipei City Government)
2016 New Year's Eve fireworks at Taipei 101 Building. (Image: Taipei City Government)

Although not a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) and often barred from attending the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer, Taiwan still stands out in the international medical community. In 2000, the Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU) of London ranked Taiwan second only to Sweden in terms of being the healthiest country in the world.

In November 2005, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, Paul Krugman, published an article entitled Pride, Prejudice, Insurance in The New York Times. He cited Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program as a useful reference for health insurance policymakers in the U.S., and pointed out that the system allows everyone in Taiwan to enjoy health insurance.

National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei City, Taiwan. (Image: National Taiwan University Hospital)

In July 2015, a Newsweek article also praised Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system. The articled stated that it provides cheap access to medical benefits and procedures for locals and expatriates, with funding covered by compulsory premium contributions and standardized co-payments.

In July 2012, a National Geographic Society documentary featured four remarkable cases of medical treatment in Taiwan. Entitled Taiwan’s Medical Miracle, the documentary noted that Taiwan’s 14 major hospitals rank among the top 200 hospitals in the world. Taiwan’s medical technology was also ranked third in the world, after the United States and Germany.  The documentary stated that:

In Taiwan, only the very top students are admitted to medical school. Candidates have to undergo a rigorous 7-year medical education and 4-year residency program.

To become a specialist, students must pass both written and oral board examinations administered by medical societies representing each specialty, as well as the National Medical Licensing Examination, which is administered by the Examination Yuan. In total, it takes 12 to 13 years for a medical student to become a specialist.

The lobby of the National Taiwan University Hospital. (Image: National Taiwan University Hospital)

Although Taiwan is a relatively small country with a population of just 23 million, its Ministry of Health and Welfare oversees almost 28 thousand contracted medical care institutions, including 26 academic medical centers, 83 metropolitan medical centers, and 370 local community hospitals. This is in addition to over 6,000 dental clinics and over 3,000 Chinese medicine clinics.

While the density of 24-hour convenience stores in Taiwan is the highest in the world at over 10,000, its density of medical institutions is double that number. Furthermore, patients may only have to pay a registration fee of just US$5 for each visit.

An example of state-of-the-art medical equipment adopted by Taiwan’s hospitals. (Image: Department of Health, Taipei City Government)

The website worldchineseweekly.com recently published an article entitled Shocking: Taiwan’s Medical Technology Ranks Third in the World and First in Asia praising Taiwan’s achievements in medical care, and numerating its remarkable accomplishments in the following areas:

  • Taiwan established Southeast Asia’s first craniofacial center where more than 30,000 patients have been successfully treated for a cleft lip and palate.
  • Taiwan boasts the world’s highest five-year survival rate for liver transplants, surpassing the United States.
  • Taiwan performed the first successful heart transplant in Asia and its success rate for coronary heart catheter stent placement is 99 percent with a complication rate is less than 1 percent.
  • Taiwan has some 20 advanced 64-multislice Computed Tomography (CT) scanners out of 650 worldwide.
  • Taiwan’s frozen eggs technology has a pregnancy success rate of 37.7 percent and birth rate of 27.7 percent.
  • Taiwan has extensive experience in joint replacement, with more than 20,000 cases per year. Its doctors employ minimally invasive techniques, resulting in small wounds and improved recovery.
  • Taiwan is a world leader in artificial joints specifically designed for people of Asian descent, while its techniques and prices are advantageous over other Asian countries.
  • Taiwan has one of the largest bone marrow donor databases in Asia with numerous successful matches.
  • Taiwan leads the world with over 10,000 successful reconstruction microsurgery procedures.
  • Taiwan doctors have performed hundreds of thousands of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism procedures by means of LASIK or laser eye surgery.
  • Taiwan’s well-established dental implantation technology has a competitive advantage in terms of quality and price as compared to most countries. Consequently, people travel from around the world to Taiwan for dental implants.
  • Taiwan completed the first laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery without scar in the world, and its success rate for patients with type 2 diabetes is 93.3 percent.

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