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Taiwanese businessman Terry Gou calls for health care reform

Publication Date : 01-07-2012


Taiwan needs urgent reform to its health care system and related laws to retain medical practitioners, instead of wasting time bickering over US beef imports, Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou said yesterday.

Gou said the government must revise the medical law and the national health insurance (NHI) programme before it is too late, or Taiwan's people may be forced to travel abroad to obtain proper medical treatment in the future.

“Do it today or regret it tomorrow,” Gou said on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the third anniversary of a stem cell therapy centre at National Taiwan University Hospital.

The tycoon has been active in promoting medical reforms since one of his younger brothers died of cancer a few years ago. The therapy centre was funded by a foundation Gou established, and he is also funding a cancer hospital in Taiwan in collaboration with the university, with its opening scheduled for 2013.

His latest remarks come amid reports that a Taiwanese physician has decided to forgo his promotion to a top position at one of Taiwan's top hospitals and move to Singapore instead.

“The situation hasn't gotten out of hand, but the government really needs to pay more attention to it,” Gou said.

He suggested that the NHI premiums should be calculated on the ability to pay. “Those who have more should pay more,” Gou said, but warned that some legal issues still need to be resolved. He called on the government to revise its regulations on matters such as public university funding.

Gou also criticised the government for failing to attach importance to urgently needed medical reforms while putting too much emphasis on solving the disputes over US beef imports.

“Medical treatment and health care issues are far more important than whether or not to import US beef containing ractopamine,” said Gou.

Saying it was “stupid” of lawmakers to spend a whole week of an extra legislative session discussing the beef issue last month without any success, Gou said he supports opening Taiwan's doors to beef imports containing the leanness-enhancing drug.

He said there is no need to introduce legislation on the issue when an executive order will do.

The time wasted could have been used to discuss something more valuable, such as Taiwan's medical problems or why the country is losing talents in the medical field, he said.

Meanwhile, the NTU said the leukemia treatment centre run by the NTU Hospital (NTUH) has conducted over 100 bone marrow transplants over the past three years and has become one of the leading pioneers in the field.

Since Taiwan's first bone marrow transplant in 1984, there have been some 1,200 others, with NTU carrying out 120 in the past three years.

Established in 2010, the centre is the largest of its kind in Taiwan and treats only leukemia patients, said NTU President Lee Si-chen at the ceremony marking the clinic's third anniversary.

The centre has served hundreds of patients and has built up a database of more than 1,400 cases so far, its statistics show. The annual number of patient visits averages 3,500.

The NTUH has been working in collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center of Texas in the US, the world's top cancer research institute, since March, when they signed a memorandum of understanding, Lee said.

He also noted that a new cancer hospital is scheduled to open in Taiwan next year, saying it will help meet the demand for cancer treatment in the country, he said.

Hon Hai Group chairman Gou, who funded the leukemia clinic, said that it has established a good reputation in the field.

Gou expressed gratitude to the doctors and nurses serving at the centre and said he is gratified that patients now can have better medical treatment, compared with years ago when his younger brother was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

The centre was named after Tony Tai-cheng Gou, who lost his battle with leukemia five years ago.


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