Liver Health Takes Center Stage at Annual Forum

The second annual U.S.-Taiwan Liver Health Forum, held November 15, 2019 at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, was a collaboration between AmCham Taipei and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) as part of its AIT@40 campaign.

The campaign’s theme for November was Innovation and Entrepreneurship Month, a fitting background for the forum, where a series of presenters and panelists discussed Taiwan’s continuing work towards becoming a “Liver Health Center of Excellence in Asia.”

Vice President Chen Chien-jen

As with last year’s event, opening remarks were provided by Vice President Chen Chien-jen. An epidemiologist by training whose past research focused on the control of Hepatitis B, Chen briefed the audience on the history of liver health progress and Hepatitis B management and treatment in Taiwan. He pointed to the substantially reduced risk of cirrhosis, Hepatitis C, and liver cancer in children immunized against Hepatitis B.

AIT Acting Director Raymond Greene also gave brief remarks, praising Taiwan as a regional leader in liver health and noting that cooperation on this area is one of the great innovative efforts between the U.S. and Taiwan.

In the lead-off presentation, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung shared slides illustrating Taiwan’s success in decreasing the prevalence of Hepatitis B, as well as the government’s push to eradicate Hepatitis C in Taiwan in advance of the World Health Organization’s 2030 target. Dr. Chen Ding-Shinn of Academia Sinica elaborated on this plan, noting that Taiwan is in a good position to meet this WHO Sustainable Development Goal by 2025. Dr. Pwu Raoh-Fang, MOHW’s National Hepatitis C Program Office Director, noted that public health precision and integrated, localized prevention and treatment approaches will be needed to meet the objective.

AIT Deputy Director Raymond Greene

Other presenters included Dr. Yeh Yen-Po, director of Changhua County’s Department of Health; Dr. Kao Jia-Horng, president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver; and Dr. Huang Yi-Hsiang, chief of the Gastroenterology & Hepatology Division at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

Director General Lee Po-Chang of the National Health Insurance Association spoke on NHI coverage for Taiwan’s national virus prevention and treatment programs, which reached nearly 40% in 2018. He and other speakers emphasized that cooperation among physicians, the NHIA, and industry have contributed to Taiwan’s leading position in the treatment of HCC liver cancer.

The first panel, moderated by General Manager Ramanathan Velayutham of Abbvie International Taiwan, discussed how Taiwan can reasonably achieve its goal of eliminating Hepatitis C on the island by 2025. Two other panel discussions rounded out the forum, moderated by Gilead Sciences General Manager Pongo Peng and Bristol-Myers Squibb General Manager Mark Horng, respectively.

Besides the presenters and moderators, panelists included Dr. Wang Ying-wei, Director-General of MOHW’s Health Promotion Administration; Dr. Chien Rong-Nan, vice superintendent of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Linkou branch; Dr. Yang Pei-Ming, CEO of the Good Liver Foundation; Dr. Lin Shi-Ming, chairman of the Taiwan Liver Cancer Association; and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Managing Director Rie Nakajima. AmCham Taipei President William Foreman provided closing remarks.

Platinum sponsors for this year’s forum were Abbvie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Gilead. MSD was a silver sponsor.

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