Cross-strait red tape hurts medical tourism: official

by Staff Writer with CNA ,  Taipei Times | 2009-06-29

Although Taiwan offers high­-­quality, low-cost medical services, this is not as important in tapping the Chinese market for medical tourism as clearing red tape for severely ill patents, a medical executive said on Saturday.

Wu Ming-yen (吳明彥), ­secretary-general of the Taiwan Non-governmental Hospitals and Clinics Association (NHCA), said that the complicated, time-­consuming application process is deterring very ill Chinese from coming to Taiwan to seek medical attention.

Chinese who wish to visit for medical purposes must first obtain a medical certificate from a doctor in China, verifying that they need specialized care.

Then they must secure acceptance from a Taiwan hospital, which in turn is required to apply to Taiwan immigration authorities on behalf of the prospective patient for an entry permit.

In the final step, the patients have to obtain permission from the Chinese authorities to travel to Taiwan.

Wu said the second and third steps could take up to three weeks and if the applicant is lucky, the last step could take a month.

In response to media inquiries, Liu Ming-hsun (劉明勳), the official in charge of the issue at the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs, said authorities were working to relax restrictions and streamline the application procedure.

However, Liu said it could still take a long time for severely ill patients to obtain Chinese authorities’ permission to travel to Taiwan.

He urged the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits to address the matter.

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