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Reports from Taiwan
  1. Tsung-Hsueh Lu
  1. Department of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical and Dental College, 23, Section 1, Taichung Kang Road, Taichung, Taiwan 403 (e-mail: robertlu{at}ms1.hinet.net)

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    Payments for inpatients due to injuries ranked first in national health insurance

    Taiwan is a small island of 36 000 km2 with a total population of 21 million. On 1 March 1995, the Taiwan government inaugurated a universal compulsory national health insurance (NHI) scheme. According to the annual report of the Bureau of NHI, the NHI paid 80 billion US dollars in 1997; 68% of these payments were for ambulatory care and 32% for inpatient care. There were 376 000 ambulatory care claims due to injuries and the payments for these claims totalled about 8 million US dollars. The payments for inpatient care due to injuries ranked first among all diagnoses (table 1). Almost half (89 299/192 421) of the injury claims were related to traffic crashes and the payments for these injuries totaled 2493 million US dollars. Because of the high financial cost of injuries in Taiwan and the obvious toll of these injuries on the economy and personal wellbeing, promotion of injury prevention interventions is urgently needed.

    Table 1

    Taiwan NHI payments for inpatients in 1997

    Motorcyclist helmet law enforced in June 1997

    In 1997, the number of registered motorcycles in Taiwan was around 10.4 million, which accounts for 66% of all registered motor vehicles. Almost one half of the motor vehicle traffic related deaths were motorcycle related. The motorcyclist helmet law was passed by the Legislative Yuan in the end of 1996 and was enforced in June 1997. Over a year has passed since enforcement began and there has been great variation in political will to enforce the law among different county governments. The helmet use rate varied dramatically among different counties. A preliminary evaluation revealed that the number of severe head injury cases did decrease during the past year in Taipei City, for which helmet use rate was almost 100%. A more thorough and systematic study is needed to evaluate the effect of the law.

    Injury Prevention Association established in September 1998

    After a year of preparation, the Injury Prevention Association of the Republic of China was established in Taipei in September 1998. The goals of the association are: (1) education about injury prevention and the promotion of injury prevention programs; (2) urging the government to give injury prevention a high priority; (3) establishment of injury related data sets and surveillance systems to enable more thorough research and evaluations about injury; and (4) cooperation with international injury prevention groups. Research about injury prevention and the promotion of injury prevention programs in Taiwan are still in their infancy. We hope that the members of the ISCAIP will assist the association in its goal of injury prevention.

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