Pharmaceutical News
Combating hepatitis, Taiwan sets a model for the world to follow

Taiwan's efforts in hepatitis prevention and treatment have achieved significant results.  Dr Chen Hsiu-Xi, a professor of public health at the NTU, claimed that Taiwan would surely win the title of Nobel laureate, if there was a Nobel Prize for countries’ effort in combating hepatitis. Dr Kao Chia-Hung, Deputy Superintendent of the NTUH, believes that providing better medication care is the way to achieve the goal of “Eliminating Hepatitis, Surpassing the WHO”, a campaign  launched by the late Academia Sinica researcher Chen Ding-Shinn.

Dr Chen Hsiu-Xi pointed out that 40 years ago, when he just returned to Taiwan after completing his study abroad, Li Kuo-Ting, who was hailed as an important driver of Taiwan’s economic miracle, included hepatitis prevention and treatment in the national policy.  Since then, the government has gradually introduced the hepatitis B vaccination program for new-born babies, expanded hepatitis screening, provided adult preventive care, and offered public-funded hepatitis C antiviral drugs.  These efforts have made Taiwan a global model for hepatitis prevention and treatment.

Dr Chen praised the NHI for increasing the access to drugs by gradually relaxing the drug reimbursement restrictions.  Currently, primary care physicians can prescribe antiviral drugs for hepatitis C, and they play an important role in the battle to eliminate hepatitis C.

Dr Kao pointed out Taiwan’s two concrete achievements: the vaccination program against hepatitis B for all young children and the use of oral antiviral drugs for hepatitis C.  Taiwan is leading the world in combating hepatitis, and it is very likely for Taiwan to achieve the goal of “more than 80% of hepatitis patients receiving treatment” by 2025.

Viral hepatitis is a serious disease in Taiwan, as well as anywhere else in the world.   The government launched the hepatitis B vaccination program for new-born babies 30 years ago and the hepatitis B and hepatitis C treatment pilot program 20 years ago.  Those were the two major forward-looking public health policies.  Dr Kao expressed his appreciation of the MOHW’s long-term efforts to improve the health of the Taiwanese people. Through public-funded vaccines and screening, the source of infection is reduced. 

Dr Kao mentioned that prevention, screening and treatment are the three pillars supporting the combat against hepatitis.   Taiwan is moving towards to achieve the WHO’s goal of “1% infection rate and a 60% reduction in mortality rate” set for 2030.  Dr Kao believes that with the joint efforts of the government, healthcare professionals and the public, Taiwan has the potential to hit this target ahead of the WHO’s schedule.

【2023-05-09 / United Daily News】