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Taiwan, Italy, Vietnam ink MOU to remember Dr. Carlo Urbani

2018/10/29 17:28:14

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) The Taiwanese and Italian associations named after Italian epidemiologist Carlo Urbani inked a deal with Vietnamese drug maker Stella on Monday to support medical care programs in Vietnam in commemoration of Urbani, who identified the threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Under the memorandum of understanding (MOU), Stella will provide all generic drugs needed for medical cooperation projects initiated by the two associations in Vietnam in the next three years, said Carlo Urbani Association Taiwan President Giovanni Juang (莊振澤).

The MOU was signed by representatives from the Carlo Urbani Association Taiwan, Carlo Urbani Association Italy and Stella Vietnam and observed by Urbani's family members and Donato Scioscioli, head of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei.

Urbani, a World Health Organization infectious disease specialist stationed in Hanoi first alerted the world to a pneumonia-like emerging disease in February 2003 that was later identified as SARS.

His early warning may have saved millions of lives, but Urbani became infected with the virus while treating SARS infected patients, and died in Bangkok on March 29, 2003 at the age of 46 due to complications from the condition.

The SARS epidemic gripped Taiwan for the first half of 2003, but the disease was eventually contained. According to the final WHO numbers that year, there were 346 cases and 37 deaths from the virus in Taiwan.

Scioscioli said Urbani is highly respected by many people in Taiwan for the contributions and sacrifice he made to control the SARS outbreak.

The establishment of the MOU marks a concrete approach to commemorating Urbani for what he did, said Scioscioli, who believed the MOU could have a positive influence in the medical care field.

Juang and the association's honorary president, Chi Cheng (紀政), also announced the winners of the Carlo Urbani Award 2018 at a press conference on Monday.

This year's award went to Shi Ping-wei (石品薇), who graduated from National Taiwan University's Department of Public Health, and Chu Yi-ching (曲怡靜), a graduate of National Chiayi University's Department of Veterinary Medicine.

They will be given scholarships to study infectious diseases at tropical medicine research centers in Africa, Juang said.

In addition, an English biography of Urbani dubbed "Doctor Without Borders" was launched at the event.

Chi said she was so touched by Urbani's autobiography because it showed his love for the world, and she hoped Juang's dream of building a hospital in Vietnam to spread Urbani's spirit could be fulfilled.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Evelyn Kao)