Improving the Health of Taiwan’s Aging Population

AmCham Taiwan’s 2021 Healthy Aging Forum was held on November 24 at the W Hotel Taipei, drawing an audience of 128 members and their guests. The event, which featured speakers and panelists from government, academia, and industry, gave stage to a diverse range of viewpoints on the impact of Taiwan’s aging population and potential healthcare solutions.

This year’s forum featured three keynote speakers: Vice President Lai Ching-te, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk, and Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-Liang.

Vice President Lai expressed his and President Tsai Ing-wen’s gratitude to the U.S. for its support of Taiwan and for donating much-needed COVID-19 vaccines to the island. Highlighting the significance of the event’s topics, Lai stated that national health policies and the use of emerging technology are vital to promoting healthy aging.

In her speech, Director Oudkirk noted the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan on healthcare. She also underscored the importance of maintaining the financial stability of Taiwan’s healthcare system, as well as utilizing public-private partnerships (PPP) to address challenges related to an aging society.

Next, Deputy Minister Shih discussed methods to develop Taiwan’s capacity to manage the aging population and the need for government policies over the next decade to address aging and offer support for age-friendly communities.

Deputy Director-General of the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) Chia Shu-li presented the HPA’s many programs and collaborations that promote age-friendly communities and active aging in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

The next speaker, Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association Chairperson Dr. Hwang Jawl-shan, emphasized that more extensive screening programs for bone mass density to identify moderate to high risk for osteoporotic fractures, as well as preventive osteoporotic fracture care, are essential to improving quality of life for the elderly.

This year’s Healthy Aging Forum featured two panel discussions moderated by Taipei Veterans General Hospital Superintendent Dr. Huey-Herng Sheu and Academia Sinica Academician Dr. Chen Pei-Jer, respectively. Panelists included HPA Deputy Director-General Chia Shu-li, National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Lee Po-Chang, Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association Chairperson Dr. Hwang Jawl-shan, Amgen Taiwan General Manager Joyce Lee, E-Dah Hospital Attending Physician Dr. Hsu Yao-Chun, Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver Chief Executive, Dr. Lin Jaw-Town of China Medical University Hospital, and Formosa Cancer Foundation Vice President Tsai Li-Jiuan.

Topics explored included how to promote healthy aging through preventive screening, standardized evaluations, and health awareness promotion. Panelists also discussed the use of big and marginal data and public-private partnerships in creating a more effective strategy to prepare for a super-aged society, which Taiwan is projected to become by 2025.

Following remarks by Chen Pei-Jer, Hsu Yao-Chun gave a presentation on how Taiwan will achieve the WHO’s goal of eradicating the hepatitis B virus (HBV). He urged the government to quickly develop a national HBV policy to support Taiwan’s efforts to achieve the WHO’s goals and protect HBV patients in Taiwan.

Cigna Taiwan CEO and AmCham Governor Tim Shields introduced the final speaker, FarHugs CEO Cary Hsieh, who spoke about the importance of including mental health in the concept of healthy aging. Hsieh stressed the need for access to mental health services and discussed the overlap between digital technology and mental health care.

In closing remarks, AmCham President Andrew Wylegala expressed his gratitude to the speakers and participants on behalf of the Chamber and noted that the connections made during the event could foster new projects and partnerships to promote healthy aging.

The forum’s platinum sponsors were Amgen and Gilead. Cigna was the gold sponsor.