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  • President Ma holds press conference in Burkina Faso for traveling press corps
  • Date
President Ma Ying-jeou on April 9 spent a second day in Burkina Faso on his visit to the West African nation. The president held a press conference in the morning to answer questions from the press corps accompanying him on the trip. The president responded to questions about a range of topics of concern to the people of Taiwan, including energy prices, communication with the public, cooperation projects between Taiwan and Africa, improvement in cross-strait relations, and whether or not he will present a report on the state of the nation address at the Legislative Yuan. During remarks before taking questions, the president also shared his thoughts after visiting the National Hospital of Blaise Compaore. Also attending the press conference were Senior Advisor to the President Chan Chi-shean (詹啟賢), National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Chin-tien Yang (楊進添), and ROC Ambassador to Burkina Faso Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠).

The president stated that after departing from Taipei and then stopping over in Mumbai for refueling, yesterday he and the delegation arrived in Burkina Faso. This morning, he said, he visited the National Hospital of Blaise Compaore and the midwife training center there. The president expressed his belief that everyone has gradually come to realize that the ROC faces enormous challenges in carrying out diplomatic work. However, considerable successes have been achieved. The ROC has provided assistance to Africa for over 50 years, but the type of assistance offered now is completely different from the aid provided by agricultural technical missions many decades ago, he explained. The president said that he was deeply impressed by the hospital. For instance, some of the equipment in the facility is even newer than that seen in Taiwan, and the same goes for software, he remarked. This hospital presents an unprecedented challenge to the traditional medical community in Burkina Faso, in particular with regard to the software management system, he said, adding that when he and President Compaore were returning from the hospital, his counterpart told him that when this hospital opened its doors, the health ministers from six neighboring West African nations came to tour the facility, and they left with an extremely positive impression of the place.

The president said he had told staff at the Puli Christian Hospital, in the central Taiwan county of Nantou that he hoped the success story of this hospital will become an important example of Taiwan's foreign assistance. During the tour of the hospital, the president also visited the nursery, where he commented that Burkina Faso's birth mortality rate is about 350 per 1,000 while Taiwan's, at 5.8 per 1,000, is lower than even that of the United States. The infant mortality rate is an important indicator of a nation's advancement, he said. Once all of the facilities associated with this hospital are up and running, the ROC is confident that a significant drop will be seen in the infant mortality rate in Burkina Faso. This facility will significantly improve the health of the people of Burkina Faso, and in particular the survival of infants, he stated.

The president then turned his attention to the health care system in Burkina Faso, including its management. He pointed out that the hospital had done a better job cultivating greenery than anyplace else the delegation had seen in Burkina Faso. Greenification success was achieved by setting up a wastewater recycling system that purifies the water for use in irrigation. That is how the hospital manages to maintain such a nice lawn. The president noted that the hospital structures are all bungalows, and in Burkina Faso when a member of the family goes to the hospital, the entire family accompanies him or her. Consequently, a camping area was designed, and it has been turned into a recuperation area. In other words, this hospital was designed with local conditions in mind. In Taiwan, hospitals are all tall buildings, the president said, but in Burkina Faso land is plentiful, and therefore one-story structures are built here. The Puli Christian Hospital made the adjustments to the design of the facility to meet local needs, and this has been an extremely important aspect of the project, President Ma said.

The president then said that he would like to especially thank former Ambassador Tao Wen-lung, who when serving as ambassador laid out the plans and design for the project, and was responsible for coordination. Taiwan’s Te Chang Construction provided assistance in the construction, and only after funds were raised from private banks did construction begin. The entire model was quite a success and sets an example for the future, he said. President Ma said that the ROC hopes that this hospital will be a success, that it will help Burkina Faso and other West African nations, and that it will serve as a new model in the ROC's foreign aid work.
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