Taipei, April 24 (CNA) Legislators from across the political spectrum urged the government Tuesday to establish a national children's health care center, saying such a facility could save hundreds of lives every year.
Taiwan's annual child mortality rate is nearly double that of Japan and Singapore, said opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin, adding that the establishment of a national children's health care center could save as many as 1,000 lives per year.
In 2011, Taiwan's child mortality rate was 4.5 deaths per 1,000, while Japan and Singapore's rates were approximately 2 deaths per 1,000, employees at Chao's office pointed out.
Although Taiwan has renowned pediatric hospitals like National Taiwan University Children's Hospital, such establishments do not have enough legal room to operate independently, ruling party Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min said, referring to the fact that pediatric hospitals are usually affiliated to a larger facility.
In addition, an unreasonable hospital evaluation system often results in pediatric hospitals not receiving adequate financial assistance, even though taking care of children requires more time and effort compared with caring for adults, Wang said, calling for the government to amend the evaluation system.
Under the current system, a children's hospital is not treated as an independent hospital, but is evaluated with its parent facility.
Hence, if a pediatric hospital performs poorly in its evaluations, it will have an impact on the parent unit's final score and may affect the amount of financial resources it receives.
People in Taiwan have repeatedly stressed the importance of children's health care, but the government has not invested enough resources, said Lue Hung-chi, an honorary professor at National Taiwan University and a former pediatrician.
Lue added that he has been asking the government to establish a national children's health care center since 1984, but to no avail.
In response, a Department of Health (DOH) senior official said the department will change hospital evaluation regulations, and will separate evaluations for children's hospitals and other medical centers.
Shih Chung-lian, director of DOH's Medical Affairs Bureau, added however that society should understand that heavy investment in the children's health care system may affect the rights of other social groups, so further discussions were necessary to find the best solution.
(By Chen Wei-ting and C.J. Lin)