Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Taiwan: a role model for pandemic management


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Successful models for covid-19 containment

As many nations struggle to keep COVID-19 infection numbers down, the island of Taiwan presents an example of how to be prepared in the event of a pandemic. As the global total of infections has neared 700,000, with over 30,000 deaths, Taiwan’s count stood at 300, with only 5 deaths.

When you read through this article, try and map the best practices which could be incorporated in India. You might have to tweak a few. UPSC Mains may ask a question on “what could be done better etc.” and this is where you shine!

Taiwan Model of Healthcare Management

  • Located less than 150 kilometres from the original viral source – China – Taiwan has seen far fewer cases of the coronavirus in the past month, with a much lower infection rate.
  • It is also worth noting the practices utilized by Taiwan’s hospitals as they seek to curb the virus and protect patients and medics.

Following were the not so exceptional measures which helped Taiwan authorities contain coronavirus:

1) Smaller staff groups

  • One of the early steps taken was the reduction of the workgroup sizes within medical facilities.
  • This reduces the risk of a community spread within the hospital emerging from infected patients being treated.
  • Depending on the size of the staff handling an area of the hospital, and the number of patients being overseen there, one infection could jeopardize the safety of an entire ward.

2) Traffic control in hospitals

  • Hospitals were establishing separate entrances and exits for in- and out-patients to help prevent the spread of infection via regular hospital traffic.
  • In effect, hospital entry began to resemble airport customs, with visitors passing through a temperature checkpoint and showing IDs before admittance.

3) Maintaining a high bed-per-capita ratio

  • Many countries have found that they do not have nearly enough hospital beds to care for patients suffering from a highly infectious disease like COVID-19.
  • In response, Taiwan has nearly 1,000 negative pressure isolation rooms (an isolation technique used in hospitals to prevent cross-contamination from room to room) available, with the capacity to add significantly more through room reconfigurations.
  • This is a remarkably high number, given the relatively small population of the island, and speaks to the country’s preparedness and advanced medical infrastructure.

4) Best public health policy

  • Finally, Taiwan has benefited greatly from the close coordination between its hospitals and central government.
  • Within the country’s nationalized healthcare system, every citizen and resident is assigned a health card, embedded with a computer chip reflecting their identity and medical history.

Significance of the Taiwanese model

  • Taiwan’s biggest success can be attributed to how ready the country and its hospitals were from Day-1, while other states were still assessing whether the virus was a threat to them at all.
  • Many of these countermeasures can be easily duplicated by India.
  • However, the willingness and effectiveness with which doctors and medical officials have worked to cooperate with each other and the public is a testament to the country’s smart and rational approach to healthcare and disease prevention.

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