Infectious Diseases

From Ministry of Health and Welfare, ROC 2020-03-27

Tuberculosis treatment

Tuberculosis care in Taiwan is partially covered by the NHI. Expenses not provided for under the system are subsidized by the CDC to ensure a strong disease prevention and treatment network. CDC funding fully or partially covers incubation period screenings for those who have come into contact with TB patients; TB patients without NHI coverage; second-line drugs for the treatment of multidrug-resistant TB; imported TB medications; quarantine treatment; TB screening in remote areas; and directly observed treatment, short-course—a WHO-recommended TB control strategy.

As a result of these subsidies, TB patients do not need to cover expenses for such measures as BCG vaccines, inpatient and outpatient services, LTBI (latent TB infection) treatment, case management and medication. In addition, to ensure safe and comprehensive treatment, social welfare mechanisms and local private sector organizations provide various forms of assistance to financially disadvantaged patients like meals and transportation.

HIV antiretroviral treatment

To ensure high-quality and accessible medical care for HIV patients, Taiwan has designated a large number of hospitals and pharmacies nationwide as treatment centers. HIV care initiatives provide patients with self-management programs, enabling them to take control of their day-today health and adhere to treatment regime. The government promotes the internationally recommended first-line therapy, comprising daily intake of a three-in-one combination drug, to help patients adhere to treatment plans. All health care expenses for HIV patients are covered under the NHI or other government funds.

In line with the UNAIDS three zeros (zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination) and 90-90-90 treatment target (By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression), Taiwan regularly launches public awareness initiatives about the disease so as to end stigmatization and help patients feel respected and accepted. At the same time, Taiwan strives to create a friendly treatment environment and achieve the internationally shared goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Malaria prevention

On Dec. 4, 1965, the eradication of malaria in Taiwan was certified by the WHO. To safeguard this status, the CDC continues to implement measures including border quarantine and tracking; surveillance and screening; and maintaining malaria laboratory diagnosis capabilities. It also imports antimalarial drugs for self-paid prescriptions at travel clinics. The CDC urges those planning to visit high-risk regions to schedule an appointment with such clinics and take medications as instructed.

Health security: compliance with the International Health Regulations

An International Health Regulations national focal point was launched as the designated contact window with WHO headquarters after Taiwan was incorporated into the operation mechanism of IHR (2005) in 2009. This contact window is charged with reporting major public health events to the WHO, receiving such information from other countries through the IHR Event Information Site and facilitating cross-border communication and referral for cases of major infectious diseases. The government also established IHR core capacities at seven international airports and ports (responsible for 95 percent of the country’s visitor traffic and 86 percent cargo throughput). In an effort to continue promoting local capabilities, the government also conduct annual self-evaluation as well as external evaluation every five years to ensure the ports’ sustainable development as well as their abilities of responding to emergent public health security incidents.

In 2018, two designated airport and port—Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Port of Kaohsiung—were evaluated by EU experts based on WHO guidelines and the Joint External Evaluation Tool (JEE). Both facilities receive full marks in recognition of their performances on IHR core capabilities and sustainable development. The other five designated sites—Taipei Songshan Airport, Taichung International Airport, Kaohsiung International Airport, as well as ports of Keelung and Taichung—also conducted self-evaluations in 2018. Results showed that the five airports and ports are capable of responding to emergent public health threats and safeguard well-being of the people.
Based on WHO guidelines, in 2016 the government contracted U.S. experts and adopted the IHR 2005: Joint External Evaluation Tool to conduct an external evaluation of the country’s emergency response capabilities in addressing public health threats. Among the 48 indicators, Taiwan was found to possess developed or sustainable capacities in 42. Taiwan is the eighth country in the world to have completed such an assessment.