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Children in Taiwan face shortage of doctors: report

Children in Taiwan face shortage of doctors: report

Taiwan's children are facing a hostile medical environment with a shortage of pediatricians, a report published yesterday said.
The three main problems affecting children's health care in Taiwan are a shortage of specialized medical personnel, their uneven distribution, and insufficient spending by the government, said the report sponsored by the Children's Welfare Alliance and the Taiwan Pediatric Association on the occasion of the annual International Children's Day today.
Taiwanese children's basic right to health care has been neglected for a long time, Children's Welfare Alliance chairwoman Feng Yen said at the news conference presenting the report.
Taiwan has the second lowest birth rate among advanced countries, but its child mortality rate is the fourth highest, while too little of health insurance spending is devoted to children, Feng said.
Each pediatrician in Taiwan has to take care of an average of 1,861 patients, or 36 percent more than the 1,368 patients per physician, the survey showed. The ratio is four times higher than in the United States and six times higher than in Germany, Feng said.
The report also found that almost a third of all pediatricians are concentrated in the larger Taipei area, while Taitung County, Chiayi County, and the outlying islands have to do with 1 percent each.
The proportion of pediatrician to patient was even more out of balance in Chiayi County, where one pediatrician has to take care of an average of 4,148 patients, Feng said. The counties of Miaoli, Hsinchu, Taitung and Penghu also had a ratio of more than 3,000 patients per pediatrician, according to the report.
Because of modest spending on children's health by the national health insurance children, many hospitals see pediatric departments as a losing proposition, and close them down to cut costs.
The report surveyed 1,531 parents of children under the age of 18 from late August to late October, through survey forms handed out at hospitals or via the Internet. The survey also reviewed 19 of Taiwan's most prominent hospitals for the presence of adequate equipment and medical personnel, the Children's Welfare Alliance said.


Updated : 2021-07-31 11:56 GMT+08:00