Vice President Lai Ching-te attended the “2021 Global Health and Welfare Forum in Taiwan” on the morning of October 31. In his address, he stated that the world still faced the threat of the epidemic, supply of vaccines, and challenges of post-pandemic recovery. Countries must uphold the spirit of the “virtuous circle” by supporting each other, help the world improve public health, enhance infrastructure, and alleviate poverty. He also stated that as a power for good in the international community, Taiwan is willing to take more concrete actions to work with different countries, share experience, and make real contributions to take on more responsibilities for the world and continue to fulfill sustainable development goals.
The Vice President gave his address in English and started by welcoming all attendees to the 2021 Global Health and Welfare Forum in Taiwan. The Vice President stated that the Forum is held for the 17th time in 2021, and it has become an important annual event for the global medicine and health community. On behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen, he thanked domestic and foreign experts and scholars in public health, social, and political disciplines for using the platform to share their valuable experience and work hard for the common interest of all mankind.
The Vice President pointed out that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, 240 million people across the world have been infected and nearly 5 million people have lost their lives. The epidemic has sparked a global public health crisis and led to crises in sustainable development. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report published in June this year, the average score of global SDG indicators in 2020 had fallen for the first time compared to the previous year as a result of the pandemic. The rise in global poverty and unemployment due to the pandemic is the main reason for the decline in SDG indicators in 2020. Approximately 120 million people across the world, five times the population of Taiwan, were forced back to “extreme poverty” as a result of the pandemic.
The Vice President stated that according to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed the progress of global SDGs and widened the gap in the capabilities for fulfilling SDGs between high-income and low-income countries. Although the pandemic increased countries’ focus on the health of citizens and accelerated the expansion of key infrastructure, only countries with robust social protection systems and national health systems have the capacity to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vice President said that the 2021 Global Health and Welfare Forum in Taiwan focused on the theme of “Sustainable Society” to explore short and long-term impacts on health services, social welfare, and sustainable development. It will also consider how to use policies, actions, or governance plans to create a more resilient, fairer, and healthier sustainable society. He believes that now is the time.
When speaking about Taiwan’s response to the epidemic, the Vice President mentioned that Taiwan remains vigilant despite having accumulated experience in responding to SARS in 2003. We adopted four major principles including advanced deployment, rapid response, prudent action, openness and transparency in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, leveraged Taiwan’s democratic governance and smart epidemic prevention, achieved rapid integration of resources of the government and private sector, used digital technologies such as big data analytics for smart epidemic prevention. With active cooperation of the people with the government’s epidemic prevention measures, we have created the “Taiwan model” of epidemic prevention as a model for the world.
The Vice President believes that if the epidemic continues, the world would not achieve economic recovery and sustainable development would remain far beyond reach. In response to changes caused by the epidemic and the risks of reversing global sustainable development achievements, we continued to adopt non-medical intervention measures, increase vaccination rate, actively research and develop vaccines, medicine, and test agents to control the epidemic in Taiwan.
The Vice President stated that vaccines produced in Taiwan have already obtained emergency authorization. The Chinese medicine formula NRICM101 developed by the National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine also obtained satisfying results and has been exported to nearly 40 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and the European Union to help the international community combat the epidemic. People have become hesitant in seeing doctors for other diseases for fear contracting COVID-19. To prevent the negative effects of such fear, we expanded video conference clinics in May this year and included medical services by video conferencing into the National Health Insurance coverage. We hope to use zero-contact diagnosis and treatment to reduce the risks of infections and clustering.
The Vice President also explained that we have used health awareness education, psychological counseling with communication technology, and diagnosis and treatment to counter the profound effect of the COVID-19 epidemic on psychological health. As we ensure safety in epidemic prevention, we must also help people relieve stress, learn to adapt by themselves, and ensure uninterrupted psychological counseling and psychiatric medical services. To prevent economic difficulties for industries and workers as a result of the epidemic, the government has launched four economic relief programs that help companies and workers by “distributing cash, providing loans, and reducing burdens” with the aim of minimizing the impact of the epidemic on citizens and companies.
The Vice President stated that the epidemic has expanded the inequality between high-income and low-income countries. In terms of the vaccination rate, 68 out of every 100 people in Europe and North American countries have been vaccinated. However, as of June 2021, the average vaccination rate in Sub-Saharan Africa remained lower than 2%.
The Vice President believed that the world still faced the threat of the epidemic, supply of vaccines, and challenges of post-pandemic recovery. Countries must uphold the spirit of the “virtuous circle” by supporting each other in terms of vaccines, drugs, and epidemic prevention supplies. Those with abundant supplies should support those with inadequate supplies to accelerate the vaccination rate for all countries and start life in a new normal state of coexistence with the virus. In addition, countries must also work together to help the world improve public health, enhance infrastructure, alleviate poverty, and minimize the impact of the epidemic on world sustainable development.
The President stated that as a power for good in the international community, Taiwan is willing to take more concrete actions to work with different countries, share experience, and make real contributions to take on more responsibilities for the world, protect the human health, fulfill global social responsibilities, and continue to fulfill sustainable development goals. He concluded his speech by wishing success for the Forum, fruitful results for guests in attendance, health, and peace.
Sources: Office Of The President