Doctors Day Taiwan
(13.11.12) I am honored to be here in Taipei, Taiwan on the invitation of Dr. Ming-Been Lee, President of the Taiwan Medical Association (TMA) to participate in their annual National Doctors' Day Celebration.
This very special affirmation of the profession of medicine, the 65th Annual National Doctors' Day Celebration, was held yesterday.
The purpose of the occasion was to promote the association of doctors and honor more than 200 senior doctors who have been providing medical care to the people of Taiwan for forty or more years.
Four physicians given special recognition have been practicing for 65 years or greater. In addition awards were given to nine physicians for special achievements in medicine. There were over 600 in attendance.
The celebration began midafternoon and was followed by a gala dinner in the evening. Speakers included Dr. Ming-Been Lee, President Taiwan Medical Association, Dun-Yi Wu, Vice President of Taiwan, Dr. Wen-Ta Chiu, Taiwan Health Minister and myself.
National Doctor's Day has a special place in Taiwan history. Sun Yat Sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, was a physician, and the annual celebration is held on his birthday.
In his remarks President Lee spoke strongly of the need to support physicians so that they can provide good quality care to patients. He commended the government for increasing payments to physicians but indicated more was needed to keep up with the cost of providing care.
Taiwan Vice President Wu emphasized the strong cooperation between the TMA and the government and the importance of supporting physicians. He pointed out however that the Taiwan Health Insurance Program is 70 billion New Taiwan dollars in debt and the necessity to increase premiums paid by employees and employers. He also expressed concern about the shortage of physicians in the specialties of pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology, general surgery, internal medicine and emergency medicine.
Shortages in the above specialties are due in part to increased threats of lawsuits, decreased payments and in the case of pediatrics and Ob-Gyn the very low birthrate in Taiwan.
Dr. Chiu, outlined the Department of Health's plans for continued improvements in the National Health Insurance Program.
My remarks focused on the common ground that unites us as physicians the world over:
- Better access to medical care for our patients
- More choices for our patients
- More autonomy for physicians
- More opportunity for physicians to advocate on behalf of public health, our patients, our profession and the policies we live and work under
In addition, I spoke about the three major WMA priorities I will be talking about in the coming year. They are the moral imperative of ethics in medicine, the challenge of noncommunicable diseases and the threat of climate change.
My take away impression of the Doctors' Day celebration was that I enjoyed very much being a part of this opportunity to say thank you to those physician who have over a long period of time served the profession so well - a profession we are honored to be a part of - caring for the patients we are privileged to serve.
My thanks and appreciation to President Lee and the officers and members of the Taiwan Medical Association for their invitation and for TMA's continued active leadership as a member of the WMA.
Tomorrow I will attend the annual Taiwan Health Forum sponsored by the Taiwan Department of Health. The theme for this year is "Public Health Perspectives in a Changing World". I will share observations from that meeting in a subsequent blog.
WMA President Cecil. B. Wilson, MD travels around the world talking about the WMA's work representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting on behalf of patients and physicians, the WMA endeavors to achieve the highest possible standards of medical care, ethics, education and health related human rights for all people. This blog will chronicle these travels and important issues.