Taipei, July 4 (CNA) Taiwan's overseas medical missions are a projection of the nation's soft power, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang said Wednesday at a meeting held to encourage hospitals to take part in international humanitarian projects.
Describing medical missions as "valuable assets," Yang said Taiwan's success in conducting such missions since 1962 has gained the acclaim of its allies.
"The feedback has been remarkable," he said in a speech to open the meeting.
Taiwan's initiatives have also enabled the country to establish connections with other major international organizations, he told an audience of representatives from more than a dozen hospitals nationwide.
"Medical diplomacy remains one of the government's goals today," he said
The minister cited a recent health program launched with Taiwan's help in Gambia that has greatly benefited pregnant mothers and babies in the African country. The program will be introduced to Burkina Faso this year.
Other participants at the meeting, while acknowledging the potential benefits of the program, called for more exchanges of opinions among policy makers, doctors and health agencies to help hospitals overcome problems they face in undertaking the missions.
"How to efficiently integrate medical services, diplomacy and government policy is an important issue that needs to be discussed," said Chang Hang, chairman of the Taiwan Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation, the event's organizer.
"The door (of opportunity) is open. But the problem is how to take the first step," he said.
Chang noted that the meeting should serve as a platform for government officials to understand the challenges local hospitals face when they decide to launch an international aid project.
(By Nancy Liu)