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Singapore medical delegation visits Kaohsiung liver transplant center

2012/06/21 20:23:36

Kaohsiung, June 21 (CNA) A delegation of Singaporean medical officials visited Kaohsiung City's Chang Gung Medical Foundation Thursday as part of efforts to develop the liver disease treatment market in the city-state.

Headed by K. Satkunanantham, the director of Medical Services of Singapore's Ministry of Health, the delegation visited the foundation's liver transplant center, where Satkunanantham asked Chen Chao-lung, the foundation's superintendent, how to develop Singapore's liver disease treatment market.

Taiwan's liver disease treatment market was able to prosper because competition resulted in improvements in medical technology, said Chen, who in 1984 became the first doctor in Asia to complete a liver transplant operation.

Moreover, Taiwan permits hospitals to apply to set up liver transplant centers, a policy that has led to the establishment of 23 centers nationwide.

In contrast, the Singapore government has very strict regulations. It only allows two public medical organizations to operate liver transplant centers, which means there is little competition in the market and less motivation to improve treatment services.

Chen suggested if Singapore wanted to develop its liver disease treatment market, the authorities should relax regulations, maintain medical transparency and give patients a choice of services.

Chen, who has performed 988 liver transplants as of June 2012, said up to 85 percent of his surgeries are living-donor transplants, and recipients of the transplants have a three-year survival rate of 91 percent.

Taiwan's living-donor liver transplant industry is one of the few sectors in Asia's medical system to be more advanced than Europe and United States, Chen explained.

The foundation has trained 41 Singapore liver transplant surgeons since 2001, accounting for nearly half of the liver surgeons in Singapore, Chen added.

(By Nancy Sha and C.J. Lin)