Ministry of Health seeks to strengthen health care for children

If pediatrics are not improved, very sick children may have to travel abroad for treatment, making it a national security issue, the health minister said.

  • By Lee I-chia / Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is seeking to bolster Taiwan’s pediatric care network after the COVID-19 pandemic showed many hospitals have limited resources devoted to children’s health, the minister said yesterday. of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元).

The minister made the remarks at a Child Health Alliance Taiwan forum in Taipei on the effects of COVID-19 on children and their families.

Although the pandemic seems to be coming to an end, challenges remain, such as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, health complications in children and how to manage remote learning, which must be resolved. by experts, Hsueh said.

Photo: ANC

Among the problems is the reduction in health care resources for children, he said.

“During the pandemic, we found that many regional hospitals had abandoned their pediatric divisions or reduced them as much as possible,” he said.

Many hospitals offer only minimal pediatric outpatient services, with barely enough capacity for hospitalizations of children or to treat children with serious illnesses, especially if several emergencies were to occur simultaneously, which raises concerns about the fragility of the country’s pediatric healthcare network, he said.

The ministry had allocated NT$1.1 billion ($35.15 million) to improve the country’s pediatric care network, but Hsueh said the funding should be increased because the problem is too big.

“I fear that if the problem is not solved, in 10 years children who develop certain serious illnesses will have to be transported abroad to receive appropriate treatment,” he said. “It’s a matter of national security.”

Although the Taiwan Pediatric Association has helped a lot throughout the pandemic by sharing doctors’ clinical experience through online courses, saving the lives of many children, the same method might not be practical for d other types of severe outbreaks, he said.

After becoming minister in July, Hsueh said he proposed to improve the national pediatric healthcare network.

Taiwan should establish basic pediatric hospitals that can treat difficult illnesses in children and train pediatricians to treat serious illnesses, he said.

Each administrative region should have at least one designated pediatric emergency hospital capable of handling pediatric emergencies, to reduce the risk of delay in treatment caused by referral of critical cases to other hospitals, he added.

Primary care clinics should also have pediatric systems that designate specific doctors to care for infants from birth, he said, adding that doctors can track a child’s health, as well as their progress. in terms of vaccination.

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