Noncommunicable Diseases

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

Prevention and treatment of hypertension

According to MOHW statistics for 2018, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and hypertensive disease—all related to hypertension—were ranked as the second, fourth and eighth leading causes of death in Taiwan, respectively. Since hypertension has no obvious symptoms, it is known as the silent killer. The Health Promotion Administration initiated to advocate this issue, with the Taiwan Hypertension Society, Taiwan Pharmacist Association and Taiwan Millennium Health Foundation. About 3,200 blood pressure measurement stops were set up nationwide in locations like convenience stores, cosmetics retail outlets and pharmacies. According to the 2015-2018 Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan, the hypertension control rate of people over the age of 20 was 48.68%; Although there was a slight decrease when compared with the results of the previous period (2014-2017), according to the results of 2018 Survey on Health Promotion Status and Outcomes, 76% of the people over the age of 18 measured their blood pressure at least once a year, which showed that the public understands the importance of blood pressure self- management.

Prevention and treatment of high blood sugar

Diabetes was the fifth leading cause of death in Taiwan in 2018. Working in collaboration with clinics, local foundations and public health and welfare organizations, 22 cities and counties in Taiwan have launched community care networks for diabetes patients since 2003. The networks have helped enhance care quality, develop training and accreditation systems for medical professionals and set up interdisciplinary medical teams. Under the networks, 286 health care facilities have been accredited as diabetes health promotion centers by the HPA. The NHI has also established a pay-for-performance scheme targeting the disease, providing financial incentives to medical institutions that achieve diabetes treatment standards and goals. In 2018, the proportion of diabetes patients covered by the NHI’s pay-for-performance program reached 55.2 percent. These measures have led to significant improvements in outcomes.

To strengthen public awareness of diabetes prevention and control diabetes, the HPA has published a series of patient education materials, such as posters, brochures, and patient decision aids, containing detailed information on diabetes care. Each year on World Diabetes Day, the HPA also collaborates with local government health departments and relevant associations to organize news conferences, lantern ceremonies, hiking events and festivals to boost understanding of diabetes prevention. Taiwan’s standardized diabetes mortality rate dropped from 37.1 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 21.5 per 100,000 people in 2018, a decline of 42 percent. This demonstrates the effectiveness of the nation’s integrated care networks.

Cervical cancer screening

In line with WHO recommendations, Taiwan offers subsidized screenings for four kinds of cancer: breast, cervical, colorectal and oral. Research shows that cervical screenings can lower the incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer by between 60 percent and 90 percent. Since 1995, Taiwan health authorities have encouraged women aged 30 and over to undergo cervical cancer screenings every three years. Women aged 30 and over with an NHI Card and National Identification Card can receive free examinations at NHI-contracted clinics and hospitals. As of the end of 2019, a total of 2.19 million women had undergone screenings, resulting in 1,108 diagnoses of cervical cancer and 2,897 of cervical carcinoma in situ. In addition, precancerous lesions were identified in some 10,000 patients. The standardized incidence rate for cervical cancer in Taiwan dropped from 25.1 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 8.1 per 100,000 people in 2016. The standardized mortality rate for cervical cancer dropped from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1996 to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2018, dropping by about 70 percent.

Tobacco control

Since the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act took effect in 1997, the HPA has launched various programs in line with the WHO’s MPOWER measures. Under the initiative, the WHO urges countries to monitor tobacco use; protect people from tobacco use; offer help to quit tobacco use; warn about the dangers of tobacco; enforce bans on tobacco advertising and promotion; and raise taxes on tobacco products. The measures unveiled in Taiwan include expanding smoke-free areas; launching new packaging warning labels; prohibiting tobacco advertising; increasing taxes on tobacco products; and strengthening cessation services. The percentage of smokers in Taiwan decreased from 20 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2018. In addition, the proportion of local high school students smoking dropped from 14.8 percent in 2009 to 8 percent in 2018, while the percentage of junior high students smoking declined from 7.8 percent in 2008 to 2.8 percent in 2018. Consistent annual declines underscore the country’s progress toward the goal of a 30 percent reduction in the prevalence of tobacco use, as set by the WHO’s Noncommunicable Diseases Global Monitoring Framework. The proportion of junior high school students who smoke in Taiwan (2.8 percent) is lower than the WHO figures for Italy, 20.8 percent; South Korea, 9.4 percent; and the U.S., 7.2 percent, as reported in the Global Youth Tobacco Survey released in 2018.