Last semester, about two months before the end of the first year of my Master’s Degree Program at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), I strained my waste for sitting too long reading and doing assignments.

I was in very severe pain and could not even sit at ease for thirty minutes to read or do an assignment. Despite that, I did not want to go to the clinic, because the semester was about to come to a close and I did not want to waste any more time with appointments from doctors. Also, the attitude of nurses in some countries, particularly in Africa is terrible. In such countries, seeing a doctor is difficult as they attend to so many people at the same time and do not come to work on time, and nurses treat patients with so much rudeness and lack of care. However, there are a few nurses among the rude ones, who are better. All those experiences made a big impact on me as I had already been intimidated by the thought of going to a clinic. I thought with the close of the semester, I could be going for physical exercises to keep my body in shape and avoid going to the clinic. My friends keep telling me that the medical system in Taiwan is good, they have good medication and the doctors here are very well-educated and speak English, but I just stood my ground. However, after days of being pestered by my friends and classmates to seek some medical help, I finally gave in and went to a clinic in Taipei to get it checked out.

When I entered the clinic, I saw two ladies sitting at a desk and dressed in all-white over-roll. They were attending to some patients. I stood for a while behind the group and when they were less busy, I walked up to them and one of them asked me whether she could help me. I explained my problem to her and she attended me very well and walked me over to the registration counter and helped me get registered. I paid 200NT for the registration. She explained to me the various places I should go and doctors I should see. There was no doubt in my mind that she went completely beyond her duty, and I was really grateful.

The first doctor I saw downstairs asked me whether I could speak mandarin and I told him jokingly that I knew only the basics. He smiled and gave me a tap on my back and said to me, “You should speak Chinese, smart boy!”  He then asked some cursory questions about the pain on my waste, tapped my waste and back to examine my problem. He asked me to stand up and I did so with some difficulty and he told me what I had suspected all along. He told me that my muscles were strained. He prescribed some medication for me and asked me not to be sitting for too long, and showed me some physical exercise I should be doing to keep my body in good shape. He then directed me upstairs to a room, where I met another doctor. That doctor also examined me and referred me to do an X-ray, which I did and quickly returned to him. He browsed his computer and told me that nothing was wrong with the bones. It was only the soft tissues, which suffered from fatigue. He again browsed his computer and saw the medication that the previous doctor I visited had prescribed for me. He prescribed other medication for me and like the previous doctor, he also recommended some physical exercise for me.

I then went back downstairs to the clinic pharmacy where I paid about 300NT and got my medication with a receipt. I was really impressed by the Taiwanese health care system. Doctors and nurses are very friendly to foreigners and the service-delivery is very effective. I was treated within a short period of time, which really amazed me.

Healthcare in Taiwan generally revolves around the National Health Insurance System (NHIS). As such, International Cooperation for Development Fund (ICDF)-sponsored students is provided with the national health insurance cards. These health insurance cards are produced on visits at clinics as I had done, by students to get treated.

I would conclude by saying that my experience of the healthcare system in Taiwan is really fantastic. It is a model and should be emulated by other countries, particularly African countries. The staff is friendly and the service-delivery is very effective and efficient. Bravo Taiwan!

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