Taipei, Feb. 10 (CNA) Taiwan has become the top choice among people in Palau as a medical transfer destination, according to Palau’s ambassador to Taiwan, Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil.
Palau had relied mostly on the Philippines for medical transfers in the past, but that situation changed after a medical services team from Taipei-based Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital was deployed to the Western Pacific island country 10 years ago, Olkeriil said.
The team from Shin Kong Hospital gave people in Palau a better understanding of Taiwan’s health care achievements, Olkeriil said.
The ambassador said that with the launch of a national health insurance plan in Palau and the presence of the Shin Kong medical team, a growing number of patients in Palau have favored Taiwan for medical transfers.
According to the Palau ambassador, about 95 percent of patients who have needed to go overseas for medical care in recent years have chosen Taiwan as their destination.
Palau has long suffered from a lack of medical resources and services, but after Taiwan and Palau established formal ties in 1999, the two countries intensified exchanges in several fields, such as agriculture, fishing, education, culture, tourism and medical services.
Shin Kong Hospital is now in charge of the efforts to boost medical exchanges between Taiwan and Palau.
Comparing Taiwan and the Philippines, Olkeriil said Taiwan has better social order than the Philippines so that patients do not have to worry about their safety when getting care in Taiwan.
In terms of medical costs, Taiwan’s hospitals have a fair pricing system, while patients in the Philippines face a complicated pricing systems that result in higher overall charges, the ambassador said.
While some patients in Palau are flown to Hawaii for medical transfers, only those cases that have research value for the medical sector are entertained, she said.
According to Shin Kong Hospital, because of Palau’s national health insurance coverage, a patient from the island country who gets care in Taiwan only has to pay 20 percent of the medical charges, and the 3-hour direct flights that connect the two places make transportation convenient.
Palau’s health ministry has staffers stationed in Taiwan to provide assistance to patients who need medical care here and help the patients take care of their daily needs while staying at Shin Kong hospital.
(By Lung Pei-ling and Frances Huang)