A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Disaster & Emergency Medical Collaboration was signed by the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and the Taiwan WHA Action Team led by Minister Shih-Chung Chen on May 22nd, 2019. Under deep mutual collaboration with the Geneva University Hospitals, Taiwan will refine the training program of our Emergency Medical Teams (EMT) and establish a disaster response model under international standards. It means that Taiwan will be able not only to cope with disasters domestically but to provide humanitarian aids to the international society. As part of the global community, Taiwan has an obligation to contribute to the international community in various ways. Using our qualified medical personnel and advanced medical capabilities to help those in need is one such way.
The world we are living in is faced with the challenges of extreme climate and complex humanitarian emergencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been emphasizing the importance of regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and response. Since the 7-magnitude Chi-Chi earthquake occurred in 1999, Taiwan’s government officials have been constructing disaster response systems within communities locally as well as building disaster medical assistance teams nationally. Meanwhile, non-governmental organizations, such as the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps, the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, and the Taiwan Development Association for Disaster Medical Teams, have also been sparing no effort in enhancing the ability of disaster rescue personnel. They actively participated in humanitarian aid both domestically and internationally. Their presence has been seen in various disasters abroad including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan earthquake, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and the 2018 Indonesia earthquake.
Minister Chen states that the Disaster Medical Assistant Team (DMAT) of Switzerland possesses numerous substantial experiences regarding the domain of disaster medicine. In 1999, right after the disastrous 7-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on September 21st, Switzerland’s DMAT, as well as Dr. Olivier Hagon, the Deputy Head of Division of Tropical and Humanitarian Medicine at Geneva University Hospitals, was here to help. A strong bond has developed between Switzerland and Taiwan ever since. 20 years after the occurrence of Chi-Chi earthquake, we marked a historic moment by signing the MOU with the Geneva University Hospitals.
Minister Chen points out that the main agenda of the MOU includes:
1.Supporting the setting-up of the EMT initiation under WHO standards.
2.Enriching the contents of EMT training courses/programs
3.Supporting other medical domains of Disaster Medicine and Primary Care;
4.Enhancing cooperation in the academic research of disaster medicine between both sides, and data analysis as well.
Disasters strike humanity without regard for borders. Disaster preparedness and response require collaboration and integration across national boundaries, especially when faced with global climate change, armed conflicts, and outbreaks of infectious disease. The world needs a universal language and system to respond to crises, and no political interference should be directed towards humanitarian aid. Taiwan should not be dismissed from international networking. By cooperating with the Geneva University Hospitals and organizations from other countries, we can not only improve our own disaster response capacity but also contribute our part to saving lives whenever a disaster or emergency event happens in any corner of the world. Just as the slogan of the Taiwan WHA Action Team says: Health for All, Taiwan Can Help.