The hospital is uniquely qualified to fly the flag for Taiwan in Myanmar. It has sent medical missions, conducted capacity building and facility upgrade projects, and performed patient referrals and transfers in Palau—one of the country’s Pacific allies—since 2007. These endeavors saw the institution awarded a Friend of Foreign Service Medal for advancing Taiwan’s medical diplomacy by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2018.
“What we want is to replicate our cooperative model with Palau in Myanmar and take it to the next level,” Hung said. “Even more can be accomplished as we share expertise in specific fields such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, health management, ophthalmology and preventive medicine.”
Thirty medical professionals from Myanmar, including administrators, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and technicians, received clinical instruction in using the latest equipment and carrying out treatment last year at the hospital. According to Hung, this engagement is important as it strengthens connections between front-line personnel in both countries, as well as better positions Taiwan to attract some of the 120,000 to 150,000 people of Myanmar traveling abroad for heath checkups and other services per annum.
“Taiwan enjoys a reputation for high-quality services at a reasonable cost,” Hung said. “This advantage, along with the government’s easing of visa requirements for nationals from the region, puts the country in the driver’s seat.” According to the MOHW, 157,000 patients from NSP target countries visited Taiwan for treatment in 2018, up 52 percent from the year before.
OCOC is seen by Minister Chen as Taiwan’s ticket for internationalizing local health care services. “Public and private resources are invested in ensuring the success of the initiative,” he said. “This is a serious commitment that helps people lead healthier lives and powerfully projects the country’s soft power.”