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Shin Kong deepens commitments in Myanmar; Chang Gung becomes coordinator for Malaysia

10/02/2019 Taipei Taiwan

This year the flagship healthcare program under the government’s New Southbound Policy initiated a new round of bidding. Myanmar was added to the program, and under the “one country, one coordinator” plan, the Shin Kong Hospital secured rights to organize healthcare efforts in the country. Cynthia Wu, the executive director of the Shin Kong Life Foundation and driving force behind the bid, states that the Shin Kong Life Foundation, Shin Kong Hospital and Shin Kong Bank, along with GHETS, an American NGO, had actually started the Myanmar Medical Empowerment Project in 2015. The project is focused on raising medical care standards in Myanmar’s local communities and improving health care conditions overall throughout the country. Since taking charge of the Myanmar program, Shin Kong has already drawn up possible strategies to further establish itself in the country and promote medical exchange between Myanmar and Taiwan.

Wu points out that Shin Kong subsidiaries had established representative offices in Yangon as early as September of 2015 and that Shin Kong not only had a plan of action for Myanmar, but was also bringing the resources of the group to bear. Since 2015 the Shin Kong group has already invested more than NT$20 million into the training program, and to date, over 50 individuals have completed three stages of ‘seed’ teacher training. Today Shin Kong continues to partner with the University of Medicine (1) Yangon to provide professional training courses in family medicine.

Alex Hung, vice president of the Shin Kong Hospital, notes that the population of Myanmar is over 50 million and says in recent years the demand for medical care has increased significantly. In 2015 the number of Burmese seeking medical treatment overseas had already risen to 120,000. Of these, the majority went to Thailand, while those from more affluent backgrounds opted for Singapore. Shin Kong hopes to replicate their successful experience in Palau by decreasing the number of Burmese seeking treatment overseas and enticing those that do to choose Taiwan over Thailand and Singapore.

During this year’s bidding for the Southbound healthcare program, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital beat out Chang Bing Show Chwan to become the coordinator for medical activities in Malaysia. Su Hui-Cheng, vice director of Chang Gung’s administration center, states that there are not many hospitals in Malaysia and, as such, there are too few opportunities to gain practical experience. Many Malaysian medical students are forced to go to Western countries for training, with the added difficulties of long distances and high costs. Some students are not even able to find a hospital to train in. Su says, “In the past Taiwan depended on the West to train our medical personnel. Now that we have the ability, we intend to do the same for others.” Chang Gung Memorial Hospital is involved in talks with several Malaysian universities and hopes to bring students to Taiwan for training. In the future these students, armed with Taiwan’s medical expertise, would return home to share this knowledge.

Su also points out that medical schools in Malaysia tend to focus on primary care. However, in specialty fields such as orthopedic surgery there is still room for improvement. With this in mind, he says Chang Gung Memorial Hospital is more than willing to provide further specialist training for attending physicians. Several hospitals have already expressed interest, and talks on follow-up cooperation are currently underway. The content of the specialist training is also expected to be finalized during these discussions.


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