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NATMA 2G 遊 Taiwan! 2023

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

July 3, 2023 afternoon

台灣大學醫學院 National Taiwan University Medical School Visit

Cheryl Wu, MD

By the afternoon, we arrived at the esteemed college and medical school of Taiwan, 台灣大學醫學院 National Taiwan University Medical School. We walked into a line of reporters and cameras, as the previous Vice President of Taiwan, Dr 陳建仁 Chen Chien-Jen, the current 行政院長 Premiere, gave us a welcoming speech and emphasized the importance of medical development in Taiwan, within the context of rapidly developing industry, informative and communication technology advancement. As an epidemiologist, Dr Chen was also instrumental in Taiwan's meticulous management of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021.

What struck me from Dr Chen's speech was his inclusion of the Taiwanese people as an equal partner when he described the impressive governmental Covid-19 management during the acute phases of the pandemic (which was echoed by the director of the CDC we heard this morning). He called the citizens of Taiwan "Nameless Heroes" and gave them full credit. Next, we heard from the Presidents of 5 hospitals in Taiwan, who variously described multidisciplinary teams within each hospital, ion therapy centers, international partnerships, robotic laboratory services (lab errors are mostly due to human etiologies), biotech and bio design innovations, and how to build an ecosystem for rapid innovation.

We then heard from a NATMA member, Dr Valis Tanapima 田知學, of our 2G Taiwan chapter, which was established earlier this year in April. These members studied in the US and returned to Taiwan to practice medicine. As is the case in the US, when the Han 漢 people forcibly settled in Taiwan around 13-17th century, the Indigenous Peoples and Tribes of Taiwan were killed and driven into the central mountainous regions. Dr Tanapima gave a moving speech about her 部落族 tribe, Bunun, the history of colonization, current health issues faced by the Bunun peoples, and the difficulties in healthcare access. She showed photos of poorly paved mountainous roads that cause flat tires at least twice a week, when medical personnel attempt to deliver in-home care to the Tribe elderlies. The average lifespan of all Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan (of which there are 16 tribes, 5 of had been in "hiding" until recently due to fear of forced assimilation), along with all health markers such as chronic disease burden, access to medical care. Dr Tanapima is a part of a governmental committee for the Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan, but feels there is much to be done for the marginalized Indigenous Tribes 原住民 (literally translated as "Original Dwelling Citizens").

After the visit to 台大醫學院, we came back to the hotel, and had a reception with the director of the 僑委會 Overseas Community Affairs Council, 徐佳青委員 Councilwoman Hsu Chia-Ching. We were lucky, as she had just touched down in Taipei that morning after 40 days of travel through Europe, South America, and Africa.

During dinner , we found out it was the 50th anniversary of our 1G members, Dr Chu-Chi Chen, a retired urologist from Kansas (and a President Emeritus of National NATMA, as well as the current president of the Kansas Chapter) and Dr Sheue-Huey Lai, a retired internist also in Kansas. Dr Chen said the secret to a long marriage is learning how to practice the art of the line, "yes, you're right". After dinner, a small group of us went out for karaoke - a Taiwanese tradition!

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