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Easy Access to Healthcare Services in Aboriginal and Offshore Island Areas

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-10-30
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

To enhance the quality of healthcare services in aboriginal and offshore island communities, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) held the 2014 Conference on Healthcare Services in Aboriginal and Offshore Island Areas on October 30 and 31, 2014. With measures for healthcare response during natural disasters as the central themes, conference participants shared studies and observations on aboriginal and offshore island communities, including reconstruction of public health centers and on-site disaster response, introduction to Integrated Delivery Systems (IDS) and local healthcare operating models, linking health promotion in aboriginal community with medical resources, etc. 
Scholars and experts were also invited to discuss important issues concerning policies on indigenous healthcare with the goal to establish consensus on collaboration among all sectors through exchange of diverse opinions. Meanwhile, local agencies that made considerable, unrecognized contributions in 2014 received commendations for work in prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, winter and summer student community health promotion service programs and the promotion of healthcare for victims of natural disasters in aboriginal townships.
The MOHW states that compared with metropolitan areas, which have comprehensive healthcare systems and adequate medical personnel, aboriginal and offshore island areas face geographical barriers and are still in need of improvement. Establishment of more medical facilities in mountainous areas is needed to reduce the number of villages lacking medical resources. 
A pilot project was launched in Lafulan Village in Taoyuan District, Kaohsiung City and Cuihua Village in Renai Township, Nantou County in 2014 to establish long term group-practice style medical residences in these villages in order to help enhance the approachability and quality of healthcare for indigenous peoples. 
In regard to promoting digitization of medical services in rural areas, between 2006 and 2014 a common medical information system was established to serve 332 mobile medical service points based out of 59 public health centers in 15 counties in aboriginal and offshore island areas. The systems can provide an average of more than 800,000 people with outpatient services per year. Long distance outpatient services and mobile outpatient services are also provided. Immediate diagnosis and treatment is provided using the common medical information system and data stored in the medical image transfer system, which can be accessed via electronic transmission. When these are integrated with cloud-based electronic medical records, they allow indigenous peoples and residents of offshore islands to enjoy the convenience brought by barrier free data exchange among medical institutions. 
To establish consensus on promotion of health policies in rural areas between the central and local governments and provide a forum for sharing experience, this healthcare conference made special arrangement for experts and scholars to present topics such as: Exploring health issues and cultural sensitivity in aboriginal townships and offshore islands, Analysis and exploration of expansion of services to remote areas by physicians at regional hospitals, and Response to natural disasters in aboriginal townships and offshore islands and experience sharing regarding emergency medical treatment of natural and air disaster victims. With the participation and consensus of these experts and scholars, as well as implementation of these healthcare services in aboriginal and offshore island areas, substantial benefit to the development of healthcare and health in these communities can be anticipated in the future. 
The World Health Organization proposed the concept of health equity in 2003 to ensure people’s right to equal access to healthcare. The MOHW will continue to proactively advocate health promotion, preventive healthcare and medical and healthcare services while integrating Taiwan’s high-quality healthcare services with powerful information and communications technology. A rural digital healthcare network will be established using digital information and communications, long-distance healthcare and so on.