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2018
04/15
Leave No One Behind website shows Taiwan can help attain universal health coverage
The Leave No One Behind website was launched April 2 in Taipei City as part of government efforts demonstrating the nation’s commitment to achieving the World Health Organization’s goal of universal health coverage.   An initiative of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health and Welfare, the portal contains a collection of images spotlighting Taiwan’s decades of contributions to medical care, as well as the need for the country to take part in the 71st World Health Assembly—the decision-making body of the WHO—May 21-26 in Geneva.   Website highlights include photographs and films separated into the categories of Affordable UHC, Biomedical Technology, Global Contributions and Front-line Experiences. Taiwan’s world-leading National Health Insurance system is spotlighted in the first, while its related cutting-edge hardware and innovations are displayed in the second.   Launched in 1995, the NHI is a compulsory single-payer social insurance plan covering virtually every citizen and foreign resident in Taiwan. It offers convenient access to inpatient and outpatient services, dental care, prescription medications and traditional Chinese treatments at affordable prices.   A major feature of the portal is the MOFA-produced short “A Perfect Pair” about 13-year-old Nguyen Thi Loan from Vietnam and her battle to overcome congenital lymphedema. Shot on location and subtitled in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish, the film shows how Loan is writing a new chapter in her life through the support of Taiwan and its world-class doctors and medical technology.   The MOFA said Taiwan is willing and able to share its 23 years of experience in implementing the NHI with the rest of the world. This is in line with the WHO’s goal of universal health coverage, which is to ensure all people obtain the services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.   Citing a 2017 BIO International Convention assessment describing Taiwan as one of the top biomedical hubs in Asia, the MOFA said the county’s advanced know-how and related achievements can help in achieving the third U.N. Sustainable Development Goal: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.   Washington-headquartered Biotechnology Innovation Organization is the world’s largest trade association representing biotech companies, academic institutions, state biotech centers and related organizations in more than 30 countries and territories.   It is anticipated the website will enable the international community to better appreciate the reasons why Taiwan should be allowed to resume its 2009-2016 annual participation in the WHA, as well as the activities and meetings of the WHO, the MOFA added. (SFC-E) Write to Taiwan Today at ttonline@mofa.gov.tw
2018
04/15
Taiwan’s National Health Insurance advances WHO goal of universal coverage
Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program is a global benchmark in universal coverage and offers valuable lessons in delivering high-quality, cost-effective medical care for all, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung.   In an interview with Taiwan Today in the run-up to the 23rd anniversary of the NHI’s establishment March 1, Chen said Taiwan’s wealth of experience can help the World Health Organization realize its top priority as specified by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom of achieving universal health care around the world. Taiwan would welcome the opportunity to share its expertise by participating in the 71st World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, May 21-26 in Geneva, he added.   “The NHI is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. All citizens and foreign residents are enrolled,” Chen said, adding that Taiwan has consistently expanded coverage over the years.   In 2013, all 60,000 prison inmates were added to the program. A further measure broadening coverage was implemented in December 2017 when babies born in Taiwan to foreign residents—previously only eligible to join at six months old—were included at birth. Chen said this demonstrates Taiwan’s respect for health care as a fundamental human right.   NHI users can access a wide range of services spanning Western medicine, dental care and traditional Chinese treatments at affordable prices. To ensure fairness, premiums are set as a proportion of an individual’s income.   This figure is currently 4.69 percent for employees, who pay 30 percent of this amount, with their employers contributing 60 percent and the government the remainder. In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare last year, 85 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with the NHI.   “The NHI Administration under the MOHW is the single payer for all medical services. This arrangement ensures high levels of efficiency by significantly reducing administrative spending,” Chen said.   In 2017, these expenses accounted for 0.9 percent of total outlays. According to the minister, this was the lowest in the world.   In addition to controlling costs, the NHI has led to continuous improvements in public health through the regular introduction of cutting-edge medications and treatments, Chen said. Recent initiatives include the addition in January 2017 of newly developed antiviral hepatitis C drugs for patients with advanced forms of the disease, he added.   This move is expected to bolster public well-being as the illness, a major cause of liver cancer, is estimated to affect up to 600,000 people, according to Taiwan nonprofit Liver Disease Prevention and Treatment Research Foundation.   In 2017, the NHIA allocated NT$2.4 billion (US$82 million) for the expensive, highly effective oral hepatitis C medications, providing the drugs to some 9,300 people. This year, a total of NT$4.25 billion has been earmarked with the goal of helping an additional 17,000 patients.   “This is money well spent. Dealing with the disease now will save a lot in the long term by preventing more serious health conditions,” Chen said.   Since the launch of the NHI, average life expectancy in Taiwan has risen from 74.5 to 80.2 years. This increase has drawn global recognition, with more than 50 foreign delegations visiting to learn about the program last year alone, Chen said.   According to the minister, in light of Taiwan’s rapidly aging population and the pressure this will place on medical care spending, the government is moving to ensure the long-term financial viability of the system.   A major step in this regard came in 2013 with the launch of the second-generation NHI. Among other changes, the government boosted revenue by levying a 2 percent charge—lowered to 1.91 percent in 2016—on supplementary income such as bonuses and stock earnings. This measure expanded the program’s premium base while making contributions more reflective of an individual’s full income.   According to Chen, another round of reforms will be launched in the next three to four years with the aim of further boosting overall efficiency and ensuring fairness in premium contributions.   “While no national health insurance program in the world is perfect, Taiwan’s model has been a resounding success and can serve as a reference for other nations,” he said. “Through technical meetings at the WHA, Taiwan can learn from other countries and give back by sharing its health care expertise.” (OC-E)  Write to Taiwan Today at ttonline@mofa.gov.tw
2018
04/15
Chinatown meeting roundup: CSC, CRA
The Chinatown Safety Committee met April 4 at the DoubleTree Hotel. Boston Police Department District A-1 Captain Kenneth Fong gave a report on local crime in the past 30 days. There were two commercial break-ins, one automobile theft, three robberies, six larcenies, four larcenies from motor vehicles, and 20 arrests. “For Chinatown, it’s been reasonably quiet,” Fong said. St. James the Greater Church conducted a survey on opening its lower church to the public, with 70 percent of parishioners in favor, said Simon Ho, former Josiah Quincy Elementary School principal and church attendee. A church committee will look into opening the space in morning weekdays for seniors and community activities. A proposal on adding a unit to 29 Oak Street was presented by owner Julius Sokoloh and his attorney Patrick Mahoney. The building has three units being used for short-term rentals; Sokoloh plans to renovate the site for four homeownership condos. The plan requires approval from Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeals to increase the number of residential units Resource of News:Sampan
2018
04/15
Chinese Progressive Association reflects on community activism
The gala looked back on CPA’s achievements in the past year, from advocating higher taxation on short-term rentalsto bringing back the Chinatown library after its destruction in 1956. CPA also honored community leaders for their dedication and hard work on promoting civic engagement and advocating equality in workplaces. The Northeastern University dining hall workers, who organized strikes to win a contract with improved health benefits and salary in 2017, were given the Social Justice Award  “We are very proud of what we got,” said Angela Bello, a Northeastern University dining hall worker. “Before we got organized for the union, our workplace was a mess. My Chinese coworkers stood up with me and we got very good representation from Local 26. Finally we got all the benefits and dignity at our workplace.” The University of Massachusetts-Boston Institute for Asian American Studies received the Social Justice Award for its advocacy for Massachusetts to collect disaggregated data for the five largest Asian American ethnic groups. “The true measure of an honor is not the stature of the person or the organization being honored, but the stature of the one giving the honor,” said Institute director Paul Watanabe. “It has been a privilege for us to work with the CPA for 25 years.” CPA presented the Unsung Hero Award to the Castle Square Tenants Organization, which brought together a diverse group of residents to build a vibrant organization that provides opportunities and uplifts a shared vision of resident ownership. In the past year, CPA has worked on policies that protect tenants and affordable housing. Its team made sure workers were not victims of wage theft. “I think one of the biggest victories for the community is that after 19 years of struggle, we brought a permanent library to Chinatown. Looking forward, we will continue to advocate for stabilization for Chinatown’s future,” said executive director Karen Chen. Resource of News: Sampan
2018
03/15
Rockland Trust-Peoples Federal Foundation presents $25,000 grant to BCNC
By Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center   The Rockland Trust Peoples Federal Foundation presented a $25,000 grant to the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center – BCNC Quincy division on Feb. 9. Funding will be used to strengthen BCNC’s Youth Center and Family Services for the Asian community. BCNC is the largest nonprofit social service provider for Asian families in the Greater Boston area, supporting over 2,600 children, youth, and adults each year at four locations in Boston and Quincy.