President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of December 23 with International Council of Nurses (ICN) President Judith Shamian. Besides welcoming ICN President Shamian to Taiwan on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, the president also briefed her on the government's efforts and successes in promoting reform in the nursing profession here.
In remarks, President Ma noted that the ICN is an independent non-governmental organization that has a 114-year history dating back to its founding in Geneva, Switzerland in 1899. The organization represents some 16 million nurses from 135 member nations throughout the world, has a longstanding commitment to promoting high-quality nursing work, and maintains a close partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), he remarked. The ICN's work centers on three major areas, namely professional practice, laws and regulations, and social services, which brought about worldwide advances in nursing. He said he deeply admires the work that the ICN does.
The president thanked the ICN for its support over the years for Taiwan's return to the WHO, and stated that in 2009 Yeh Ching-chuang (葉金川), then Minister of the Executive Yuan's Department of Health, was invited to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer. This, he said, marked the first time in 38 years that Taiwan had attended the WHA, adding that over the past five years the delegation from Taiwan has made considerable contributions at the meetings. This year, he noted, the number of bilateral meetings between Taiwan and other member nations doubled, and representatives from Taiwan spoke at 15 different committee meetings, discussing our national health insurance system, and successes with a weight reduction plan and anti-smoking campaign that the government has initiated. Other member nations took note and recognized the achievements of Taiwan, he remarked.
As for steps taken by the government to promote reform in the nursing profession, the president stated, over the past 10 years the nursing community here has faced problems such as heavy workloads, long working hours, and an insufficient number of practitioners. Significant reforms have been undertaken to address these issues, he said. Thanks to the efforts of the government, he noted, the number of practicing nurses has risen to over 140,000, from 130,000 previously. It is expected that within the next three years another 9,200 nurses will join the profession, which the president said he believes will help to relieve the shortage of nurses.
President Ma also mentioned that Taiwan has one of the world's most advanced national health insurance systems, which provides an important safety net to the public. The American CNN news channel, he said, has reported that Taiwan has one of the world's three best national health care networks, along with the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and among these three, Taiwan's system costs the least.
Lastly, President Ma stated that ICN President Shamian will deliver an address during her visit and will also exchange opinions with representatives from the Taiwan Nurses Association. He expressed hope that she will share her valuable experiences related to the nursing profession in advanced nations to help Taiwan further improve its nursing system.