While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday.
Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities.
The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012 and 2018, Department of Statistics Lee Chiu-yen (李秋嬿) said.
Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times
The trend corresponds to the phenomenon of Taiwan becoming a superannuated society, said Chiou Hung-yih (邱弘毅), a professor of public health at Taipei Medical University.
It also highlights the dual problem of people generally having an “irresponsible” attitude toward their health and the authorities not allocating enough funds under the National Health Insurance (NHI) system for education about maintaining good health, Chiou said.
The NHI system emphasizes treatment and is neglecting public health at large, he said.
Some people do not take their medicine on time and develop a protracted period of poor health, while others started an unhealthy lifestyle early on, he added.
Physicians only focus on treating patients and do not educate them about their health, as doing so would not bring them extra subsidies under the NHI system, he said.
That NHI premiums have not risen has also led many people to take treatment for granted and ignore what they can do for themselves to stay healthy, he said.
Chen Ying-jen (陳英仁), a geriatric specialist at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said the nation’s universal healthcare and quality caregivers means that people are living longer in poor health.
There is also a problem with with how Taiwanese view death, as many people would rather their family members live on life support than die, Chen said.
Taiwanese need more education about quality of life and how to deal with situations when all the medication and treatment available have failed, as well as the prospect of having to go into hospice care, he said.
Statistics showed that the number of years people lived in poor health dipped in 2016, which the ministry attributed to a major cold front that aggravated cardiovascular and lung problems and led to an increase in deaths, adding that pneumonia was the third-most common cause of death that year, and life expectancy was reduced by 0.2 years.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did