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President Tsai inspects Taiwan technical mission in Solomon Islands, tours Taiwan Health Center  
President Tsai inspects Taiwan technical mission in Solomon Islands, tours Taiwan Health Center  

At 4:00 p.m. on November 2 local time (1:00 p.m. Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen inspected the Taiwan technical mission in the Solomon Islands, and toured the Taiwan Health Center there. The president was in the Solomon Islands on a diplomatic mission dubbed "Sustainable Austronesia, Working Together for a Better Future—2017 State Visits to Pacific Allies."

After President Tsai arrived at the Taiwan technical mission, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Dudley Kopu accompanied her as she listened to a briefing from Mr. Shiue Sheuan-Pyng (薛烜坪), head of the Taiwan technical mission in the Solomon Islands, about the mission's improvement projects for food crops, vegetables, and fruits, and a hog-raising project. They also toured an exhibit where the results of these projects were on display, and enjoyed a panpipe performance and a traditional dance in a relaxed and exuberant atmosphere. Afterward, the president strolled with Prime Minister Sogavare to a vegetable plot and joined local students to plant Taiwanese sweet potato seedlings.

Solomon Islands Kaotave Vocational School is often plagued by a shortage of funds to pay for food, making it impossible to provide students with regular meals. To address this problem and achieve food self-sufficiency, school principal Jimson Iakawal approached the technical mission in 2016 with a request for assistance. In addition to providing agricultural implements and high-quality seedlings, the technical mission also sent personnel to the school to provide on-site instruction on how to plant and cultivate the seedlings.

After finishing her inspection of the technical mission, President Tsai proceeded to the Taiwan Health Center, where Solomon Islands Minister of Health and Medical Services Tautai Agikimua Kaitu'u accompanied her to listen to a pair of briefings. First, Mr. Zhang Wei-zhou (張偉洲), a senior specialist at the Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital (KMUH), explained the technical mission's key achievements via an exhibit poster. Dr. Cherng-Jye Jeng (鄭丞傑), Vice Superintendent of the KMUH, then delivered a briefing on the Health Center operations. Afterward, on behalf of the government of Taiwan, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中) and President Liu Ching-Kuan (劉景寬) of Kaohsiung Medical University donated medical supplies to the Solomon Islands. President Tsai also went to the first dengue fever laboratory established in the South Pacific, which was set up with assistance from Taiwan. There she received a briefing from Mr. Lin Ping-chang (林秉昌), a medical technologist at the KMUH, who explained the dengue fever testing procedure and gave a demonstration. These activities gave President Tsai a good feel for how Kaohsiung Medical University has been contributing to healthcare in the Solomon Islands, and to the bilateral friendship.

The ROC government established the Taiwan Health Center at the Solomon Islands National Referral Hospital a decade ago, and each year dispatches a veteran nursing professional to head the Taiwan medical mission. As of the latter half of 2017, Taiwan also has a long-term resident physician program in place. Under this program, which is being run by the Taiwan Health Center, the KMUH dispatches senior physicians specializing in internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, medical imaging, and orthopedics to serve one-month rotations at the National Referral Hospital to help see patients and teach.

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