Taiwan shores up defenses against communicable diseases

  • Date: 2017-08-03
  • Source: Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan

Premier Lin Chuan today instructed the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) to shore up Taiwan’s defenses against communicable diseases by monitoring transmissions, issuing alerts, and taking immediate response measures in the event of unusual outbreaks or large-scale infections.

The premier gave the instructions at the Cabinet’s weekly meeting, during which the MOHW reported on the state of major acute communicable diseases in Taiwan and the government’s responses.

Enterovirus infections can be particularly dangerous to young children, the premier said. Any prevention efforts must not be taken lightly and health inspections should be carried out thoroughly at schools, child care centers and public spaces.

Dengue fever has also reached peak season with several indigenous cases already appearing in Taiwan. The premier directed government agencies to intensify environmental cleaning and mosquito control efforts, especially with regard to the large amounts of standing water left by two typhoons last weekend. Central and local authorities should also raise the public’s awareness and help contain the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

To prepare for the large crowds that will descend on Taiwan for the upcoming Universiade Taipei 2017, agencies including the MOHW and Environmental Protection Administration must reduce the risks of dengue fever, the Zika virus and other communicable diseases by strengthening border inspections and cleaning up the environment. These agencies should also provide technical support to local governments and work as a team to prevent transmissions effectively.

Influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs are essential tools for controlling disease, the premier continued. As the MOHW rolls out 6 million doses of government-funded flu vaccines later this year, other agencies should provide full assistance and encourage the public to get flu shots. The MOHW plans to stockpile enough flu vaccines for 10 percent of the population.

Although Taiwan is not a risk area for meningococcal meningitis, this communicable disease can be harmful to certain age groups and those with particular lifestyle factors. Schools and military barracks should be on alert while taking preventive measures, the premier said.

The MOHW said that Taiwan has comprehensive disease monitoring and response systems in place to protect against major communicable diseases from within and outside the country. Eight strategies provide a full line of defense: increase the effectiveness of disease monitoring systems, reinforce cooperation between government agencies and with local authorities, improve testing and diagnosis capabilities, strengthen the medical treatment system for acute and major diseases, step up border inspections and quarantine measures, raise flu vaccination rates, strengthen risk communication through different channels, and engage in disease control cooperation with countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy.