TaiwanICDF’s Response in Public Health and Medicine

Public Health and Medicine

COVID-19 & TaiwanICDF
Since 2020, a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been affecting more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Many countries have requested foreign aid because their health care systems are being overwhelmed. In this difficult time, the TaiwanICDF has integrated its project resources and cooperated with partner hospitals in Taiwan to support our allied and friendly countries to fight against COVID-19 and demonstrate the spirit of “Taiwan Can Help, and Taiwan is Helping.”
Exchanging experiences in COVID-19 prevention and control for further improvement
Taiwan is not alone in supporting the global community’s fight against COVID-19. In 2020 and 2021, the TaiwanICDF held two webinars during the World Health Assembly (WHA) for two consecutive years.

In 2020, the TaiwanICDF cooperated with Swiss INGO Terre des homes (Tdh) to jointly host the webinar ICT Deployment in Tackling COVID-19 on May 21, 2020 at 7 pm CST. The webinar started with welcome remarks made by Shih-Chung Chen, Minister of Health and Welfare of Taiwan. Chen addressed Taiwan’s experience on combating COVID-19. I-Ming Parng, Director General of the Department of Information Management from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (Taiwan), shared how Taiwan applied ICT to integrate the national health insurance and immigration databases to tackle the pandemic. In addition, Mohini Bhavsar, Senior Partnerships Director from Dimagi Inc., a social enterprise based in the US; Tony Wu, a TaiwanICDF Project Manager based in Paraguay; and Joseph Wu, Technical Advisor of Luke International, shared their experiences and lessons learned in applying contact tracing technology in various countries such as Togo, Madagascar, Paraguay and Malawi. Rahul Matthan, Partner at Trilegal, then shared the experience of contact tracing technology use in India and privacy issues stemming from this technology. Providing closing remarks, Timothy T. Y. Hsiang, Secretary General of TaiwanICDF, called on international partners to pay attention to security issues when enjoying conveniences brought by technology.

In 2021, the World Health Organization has designated this year the International Year of Health and Care Workers, and launched a year-long campaign under the theme "Protect. Invest. Together." In order to echo this theme, the TaiwanICDF hosted a Webinar on Strengthening the Public Health System for Maintaining Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic on May 25, 2021 at 19:00. The webinar was co-hosted in collaboration with Korea-based INGO Good Neighbors and US-based social enterprise Dimagi Inc., and featured a panel of public health experts. Dr. Philip Y. C. Lo, Deputy Director-General of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, detailed Taiwan’s prevention and control strategies in fighting against COVID-19. Dr. Hoon Sang Lee, Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Kyung Hee University, discussed the global challenges that health and care workers are facing. Dr. Pai-Po Lee, Deputy Secretary General of the TaiwanICDF, shared how the TaiwanICDF and our partner countries work together to protect health and care workers and continue to provide health services during the pandemic. Dr. Neal Lesh, Chief Strategy Officer of Dimagi Inc., analyzed how investing in modern technology improves the efficiency of health services and vaccine delivery. The objective of this webinar was not only to share Taiwan’s experiences but also to emphasize the importance of supporting health and care workers to maintain essential health services during the pandemic.

Exporting Taiwan’s successful experience
in combating COVID-19

As Taiwan has largely succeeded in combating COVID-19, more and more countries and organizations are looking to Taiwan for a model to emulate—and, increasingly, for help. The TaiwanICDF has coordinated a webinar between Paraguay’s government and Cathay General Hospital in Taiwan to share its experience, and has also supported Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organize webinars with National Taiwan University Hospital and Far Eastern Hospital in Taiwan for other partner countries. Furthermore, the TaiwanICDF together with its public health consultant, Dr. Hung-Yi Chiu, and Taipei Veteran General Hospital, reviewed the St. Kitts and Nevis government’s policy documents on national COVID-19 prevention and control, and infection control in hospitals, to allow their COVID-19 pandemic prevention measures to operate more efficiently.

In addition, the TaiwanICDF’s Health Information Management Efficiency Enhancement Project in Paraguay (Phase 2) proactively added English captions to three videos about COVID-19 prevention and control published on YouTube by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. Then, we coordinated with Cathay General Hospital and linked with the Project for Strengthening Medical Emergency Response in Haiti to translate the Spanish and French versions. This allows more global health personnel to understand Taiwan clinical treatment and infection control for COVID-19 and further strengthen their capacity. Our Project for Strengthening Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Prevention and Control System in Nicaragua rapidly responded to the request of the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua and consulted Far Eastern Memorial Hospital on medications of COVID-19 symptoms. Under the guidance of experts from Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, two Belizean physicians who are currently in the three-year Foreign Doctor Radiology Residency Training Course under the TaiwanICDF’s Project for Strengthening Medical Imaging System in Belize conducted an online training for their Belizean colleagues on radiological imaging features and diagnosis of COVID-19 patients. These are all great efforts demonstrating that cooperation on COVID-19 prevention and control surpasses borders.

Further, in response to the travel restrictions for foreign healthcare personnel and responding to the needs of partner countries, through the Project for Strengthening Medical Emergency Response in Haiti, the cooperating hospital Chi Mei Hospital shared Taiwan’s experience in COVID-19 prevention and control to Haiti through online courses to assist healthcare personnel in improving their operations. In addition, the TaiwanICDF Healthcare Personnel Training Program is cooperating with Taiwan Society of Nephrology and Taiwanese Association of Diabetes Educators for two online basic training courses. As patients with chronic diseases are considered as people at higher risk of COVID-19, the diabetes mellitus basic training course also includes related topics to decrease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strengthening the capacity of health personnel in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
To allow health personnel to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic, the TaiwanICDF’s Project for Strengthening Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Prevention and Control System in Nicaragua has introduced COVID-19 information and features to Nicaraguan health personnel through local workshops, and has taught them how to treat high risk groups who have diabetes, hypertension and CKD, during the pandemic.

Furthermore, some of Taiwan’s partner countries lack medical resources and are unable to provide all health personnel with personal protective equipment (PPE). Our Project for Promotion of Medical Technology for Improvement of Maternal-Neonatal Health in Guatemala used local materials such as plastic sheets, sponges and elastic bands to make face shields for Guatemalan health personnel. One face shield only costs US$0.50 and can be made in 10 minutes, allowing the TaiwanICDF to provide protection for more frontline warriors. The TaiwanICDF’s Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project in the Kingdom of Eswatini (Phase II) provided liquid soap to five cooperating hospitals and taught local health care workers proper hand washing technique. This is expected to help reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection among mothers and children during hospital visits by strengthening protection of frontline health personnel.

In addition, our project on "Provision of assistance to the most vulnerable persons exposed to protection-related threats as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis in Lebanon" helps eight health facilities improve their standard operating procedures and ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project also provides the facilities with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to better safeguard healthcare workers and patients.
Applying information systems to improve the COVID-19 pandemic prevention mechanism
To contain the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, many countries have closed their borders, imposed city lockdowns and restricted people to stay at home. In spite of these limiting measures, it is still difficult to carry out pandemic prevention and control. The TaiwanICDF’s Health Information Management Efficiency Enhancement Project in Paraguay (Phase 2) immediately developed a patient tracking function under the current health information system, which the project has developed and implemented in several tertiary and secondary hospitals in Paraguay, allowing health personnel to proactively follow and monitor COVID-19 high risk groups. Our Digital Health Innovation for COVID-19 Response in India project helps healthcare workers from 80 primary healthcare facilities in Ranchi district, the capital city of the Indian state of Jharkhand, apply digital technology to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers will utilize the training and monitoring tool for COVID-19 response, the chatbot application, and a digitized screening and triage tool for the registration and management of suspected COVID-19 cases.

In addition, Yi-Pei Lu, a TaiwanICDF volunteer who serves in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), made a dynamic map to show COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, enabling the SVG Ministry of Health to see real-time data of the pandemic in the region.
Raising awareness of COVID-19 self-management
In light of the limits and barriers to information sharing, people might not receive COVID-19 pandemic prevention information in a timely manner in most developing countries. The TaiwanICDF’s Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project in the Kingdom of Eswatini (Phase II) has integrated the issue of COVID-19 self-prevention in its weekly section on maternal and children health promotion, and has published health talk summaries in the local newspaper Eswatini Observer. Moreover, the project also provided hand sanitizers, fabric masks, backpacks, and hygiene education leaflets to community health workers for enhancing their own protection capabilities and the health of the community members.

Due to CKD patients being the high-risk group of COVID-19 and in line with Nicaragua’s COVID-19 prevention and control promotion plan, the TaiwanICDF’s Project for Strengthening Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Prevention and Control System in Nicaragua donated prevention material kits to CKD patients to reduce the risk of infection. The Capacity Building Project for the Prevention and Control of Diabetes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has cooperated with SVG’s Ministry of Health and arranged a mobile health education vehicle to promote the health issues of diabetes self-management and COVID-19 self-prevention nationwide.

The TaiwanICDF’s project on "Provision of assistance to the most vulnerable persons exposed to protection-related threats as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis in Lebanon" provides refugees and vulnerable locals with infection and prevention control kits (including facial masks, gloves, soaps, hand sanitizer, etc.) along with educational materials. In addition, as clean water is essential during the pandemic, the WASH Recovery Program in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia has built a total of 10 clean water sources and 80 latrines. The program also conducts educational activities in target areas to reduce open defecation and teach proper hand washing.

Furthermore, Ya-Chen Lin, a TaiwanICDF nursing volunteer in St. Kitts and Nevis, has taught patients how to properly wear masks, and donated homemade masks that she made herself to underprivileged groups. Additionally, Lin held a workshop instructing participants from the Ministry of Agriculture how to make masks from recycled clothes. Zi-Xuan Lin, a TaiwanICDF nutrition volunteer in Palau, taught children effective handwashing and made a flyer on nutritional advice during the COVID-19 pandemic. All the local promotional activities were conducted by the TaiwanICDF’s teams to give more people access to accurate pandemic prevention information and enhance their ability to protect themselves.
Applying cash assistance to help vulnerable pregnant women during the pandemic
The TaiwanICDF established the 2021 TaiwanICDF Humanitarian Fund for Cash Transfer Project to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods of vulnerable beneficiary households from TaiwanICDF projects. Hence these households could continue to join project activities, and ensure the results of the TaiwanICDF projects.

For example, the sub-cash assistance project of the Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project in the Kingdom of Eswatini provides nutrition allowance and transportation subsidy to and from medical institutions for maternity check-ups. The additional aid has improved the nutritional status and increased antenatal care services of the targeted pregnant women.

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  • Date:2020/5/14