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Strengthening health care for rural communities


To ensure that residents living in rural areas and on outlying islands have access to comprehensive medical care, in 2019 the Executive Yuan approved a rural health care improvement program to further strengthen local care standards and provide residents with improved services. Between 2019 and 2023, the government has invested nearly NT$1 billion (US$32.8 million) and adopted four main strategies to strengthen and expand health promotion and preventive care, integrate long-term care services, and develop customized regional health care solutions, complemented by deregulation and the incorporation of new information technologies. The program is designed to comprehensively improve medical care networks in rural and remote areas, and reduce health inequalities between urban and rural populations.

Four strategies

Boost local emergency care capabilities: Regional networks have been established to coordinate emergency care among hospitals. Medical centers and Advanced Emergency Responsibility Hospitals have also been incentivized to support the emergency care services of hospitals on outlying islands and in under-resourced districts, and assist with improving their emergency care capabilities.

Upgrade primary care service capacities: The government is improving primary care medical facilities, expanding the promotion of telemedicine and encouraging hospitals above district level to provide medical services in mountainous and offshore island areas, including outpatient visits at specific locations, evening and weekend on-call doctors, as well as specialist clinics, vehicle-based mobile health care and home care. The government is also incentivizing Western medicine practitioners, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and dentists to open clinics or provide mobile health services in areas of the country which lack medical resources.

Expand local medical talent pools: The government is alleviating the medical personnel shortage through various measures, such as establishing a system to train government-sponsored medical school graduates in key disciplines, cultivating medical talent from among indigenous communities and offshore islands, and encouraging government-sponsored medical school graduates to remain in rural areas after completing their service obligations.

Strengthen medical air evacuation mechanisms: Air ambulances stationed on the islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu provide emergency medical evacuation services. An innovative care delivery model, based around a videoconferencing platform, allows critical care physicians from the evacuating hospital, the receiving hospital and the evacuation approval center to gather virtually and make shared decisions about treatment in real time.

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