May 17, 2003
sars in taiwan

Taiwan reports its largest one-day increase in SARS yet. This is depressing--especially since my parents have rushed back. As head of a research hospital, my dad has to go back.

The sad thing is that I'm not particularly surprised Taiwan is having problems. Semiconductor foundries, Apple/Dell/IBM laptop manufacturing, and LCD screens are things Taiwanese are good at. Pre-emptively dealing with problems that don't have the seductive sheen of high tech or money is something the Taiwanese are not. There's also a culturally-ingrained tradition of ad hoc just-good-enough improvisation for solving problems (really no different than on the Mainland). With this sort of culture if it's just money at stake, you get breathless, percolating, euphoric economic drive; when it comes to something as mundane as public health, you get discouraging heaps of crap swept under the rug. This passivity is hurting them now.

On one trip over, I checked out an ambulance. It blew me away: basically a minivan with room for a gurney, no lifesaving equipment, and just a couple hooks for an IV. I asked my dad about EMS services in Taipei. His response: they don't exist. This is a wealthy country. There is no excuse. Here at Duke alone we have two Lifeflight helicopters and half a dozen trucks stuffed with equipment.

Compounding Taiwan's SARS crisis is treachery. For all I care, the head of Ho-Ping Hospital (the one who concealed early cases and essentially killed several of his staff) can burn in Hell.

The Taiwanese has successfully thrown off dictatorship and political repression, creating the only democracy in the Chinese-speaking world, they now have to throw off the repression of narrow-mindedness and passivity.

Posted by erich at May 17, 2003 10:34 AM
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