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Premier Su: Government will take up its responsibility to improve children's health care

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At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a Ministry of Health and Welfare briefing on improving the health care system for children. Taiwan's falling birthrate is a major issue, the premier said, and the government has responded by rolling out a raft of measures, including approving a children's health care improvement program last year, which aims to enhance the quality of children's health care and reduce the child mortality rate, while providing numerous child care subsidies to support families and ease burdens on parents.

Although the government has invested significant resources in child care subsidies and other measures, Taiwan's mortality rate for children under age 5 was still as high as 4.7 per thousand live births in 2019, which is higher than in neighboring countries, such as 2.5 per thousand in Japan and 3.2 per thousand in South Korea. Compared with other advanced countries, this truly puts Taiwan to shame, Premier Su said.

Given the high quality of Taiwan's health care and public health system, we should be able to improve the situation, the premier said. In February 2020 he approved the children's health care improvement program with a budget of NT$2.8 billion (US$101.1 million) over four years to enhance the quality of children's health care, lower the child mortality rate, and safeguard the lives and health of the nation's children.

The premier went on to say that over the past few years, the government has made great strides in caring for children and young families. He cited the increase in the current child care allowance of NT$3,500 (US$126) to NT$5,000 (US$181) effective August 2022; the expansion of infertility treatment benefits in July of this year, with almost 10,000 people receiving assistance in just the past six months; and the increase in parental leave allowance from 60 percent of current salary to 80 percent, with both parents now allowed to apply for leave concurrently. This past Tuesday, the Legislative Yuan also passed the third and final reading of the amended Act of Gender Equality in Employment, including provisions that increase leave for prenatal examinations from five days to seven, and also provide for an additional seven days of leave to accompany a spouse for examinations and birth.

The premier emphasized that in the future, the government will devote even more resources, and speed up, increase and integrate resources of all types, showing even greater resolve and energy to improving children's health care.

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