SA can learn from Taiwan about healthcare

THE World Health Organisation recently announced that the H1N1 virus (swine flu) has become the world's dominant influenza virus, with high levels and an increase of activity in many regions.

So the WHO has recommended that public health authorities use vaccines to protect people against the pandemic.

Continuing its strong tradition of universal healthcare, Taiwan has embarked on a massive immunisation campaign against the H1N1 virus.

As part of the campaign, Taiwan's health authorities aim to administer 12million doses of vaccine before the Chinese lunar new year holiday on February 14.

The programme aims to reduce the risk of contagion at a time when large numbers of people traditionally travel home for family reunions.

Taiwan's healthcare system demonstrates that it is possible to have universal coverage and good quality healthcare, while still managing to control costs.

Renowned economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has urged the United States to look to Taiwan's national health insurance for guidance on tackling its own healthcare issues.

Interestingly, Krugman has advised Americans to give up the idea that "private insurance is more effective than public insurance".

Krugman's analyses has a distinct bearing on South Africa's debate about the Zuma administration's proposed national health insurance scheme.

To create a brighter future for everyone in South Africa, healthcare is needed by everyone.

South Africa has much to learn from Taiwan's experience .

Greg Lishman, Parkmore