獨/疫情是危機也是轉機!台大院長吳明賢:「預防勝於治療」| Pandemic offers challenges and opportunities: New NTUH head

台大醫院(左)、台大醫院新任院長吳明賢(右)| A collage shows National Taiwan University Hospital (left), and Dr. Wu Ming-shiang who is the new superintendent of the National Taiwan University Hospital. (The China Post/Shutterstock)

【看CP學英文】臺大醫院作為國家醫院,其人事案一直都是各界矚目焦點,8月1日,原臺大醫院副院長吳明賢正式升任為院長,The China Post於週六上任首日專訪吳院長,專訪中他強調台灣目前防疫相較於美國、巴西等國家相對優秀,民眾配合政策戴口罩、勤洗手、維持社交距離,經歷這場空前危機,人們更重視健康問題,也對「預防勝於治療」有更深的體驗。

As the leading hospital in Taiwan, the nomination of the new superintendent of the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH, 台大醫院) is always at the center of attention. Amid the ongoing outbreak, the nomination of Dr. Wu Ming-shiang to lead the NTUH on Aug. 1 has again attracted global media coverage. 

Speaking to The China Post, Taiwan in an exclusive interview, Dr. Wu praised the way Taiwan authorities have handled the pandemic so far. At the same time, he thanked Taiwan public for cooperating with health authorities while wearing face masks, washing their hands and keeping proper social distances. In facing this unprecedented pandemic, Dr. Wu remarked that many have come to realize that “prevention is better than the cure.”

吳院長表示,「這次新冠肺炎疫情是危機,也是轉機。」吳明賢院長週六接受The China Post獨家專訪時指出,未來台大將朝著三大面向努力,分別是「智慧醫療」、「精準健康」和「尖端醫療」。

Against this backdrop, Dr. Wu noted that “the pandemic is a crisis, but it is also an opportunity.” To this end, he aims to further assist the NTUH in putting greater efforts in developing “smart healthcare,” “precision health” and “advanced medicine” for the years to come. 

台大醫院(右)、台大醫院新任院長吳明賢(左)| Dr. Wu Ming-shiang is the new superintend of the National Taiwan University Hospital (left). (The China Post/Shutterstock)

台灣IT產業極強,利用此強項,將醫療與IT結合,發展「智慧醫療」,必能為人民帶來更大福祉。

Thanks to Taiwan’s strong IT industry, he expressed hopes to further incorporate technology and medical care too; thus, creating a “smart healthcare” that will benefit the people of Taiwan.

「精準健康」的重點為「預防」,台灣目前在第三級預防(Tertiary prevention)表現相當不錯,若能加強初級與二級預防,勢必能省去大筆醫療費與治療的痛苦。

“Prevention is the key to precision health,” said Dr. Wu who noted that Taiwan is doing so well on tertiary prevention (trying to improve your quality of life and reduce the symptoms of a disease you already have). Vast sums of medical expenses could also be saved if the primary (trying to prevent yourself from getting a disease) and secondary preventions (trying to detect a disease early and prevent it from getting worse) were reinforced too, he pointed out.

吳明賢院長指出,面對前所未見的新冠肺炎肆虐,是危機也是轉機。過去民眾不重視疾病預防,認為把健康交給醫院即可,事實上醫院只是看病的場所。這次的新冠肺炎讓大家更重視健康,體認到預防勝於治療的重要性。

In this regard, Dr. Wu noted that the COVID-19 pandemic could be viewed as an opportunity for the development of future medical care in Taiwan. Prior to the pandemic, people neglected the concept of disease prevention, he went on, assuming that hospitals are a panacea for their health. Yet, hospitals have their limits, he pointed out. Under the threat of the coronavirus, people have begun to put more emphasis on health and have better understood the significance of disease prevention, he continued.

除了預防,疫苗也很重要,各國爭相研發疫苗,儼然成為國安問題。吳院長在獨家專訪時表示,台大醫院今年初成功分離出本土第一株新型冠狀病毒株,是全台第一,也是全球第四個國家分離成功。

Countries have also been pouring more effort into vaccine development, elevating vaccine research to a national-security level issue, which he called “positive developments.” Given that the NTUH is the leading medical institution in Taiwan and the fourth medical center in the world that managed to isolate the coronavirus virus strain earlier this year, Dr. Wu said he is confident in the NTUH’s contribution to solving this global health crisis. 

然而,台灣生技產業的困境是本土的藥品代理公司(pharmaceutical company)規模太小、市場也太小。即使試驗第一、二階段得到很好的結果,台灣研究團隊仍可能考慮把結果賣給國外大廠,一方面因為第三階段是最燒錢的,另一方面也不能保證第三階段試驗完成後能馬上賺錢,畢竟還有行銷方面的問題必須考慮。另外,台灣確診人數少也使得藥物發展有一定的難度。

Yet, he lamented about the limited scale of the pharmaceutical industry and the size of Taiwan’s population, placing the eventual development of a local vaccine in a predicament.

The Taiwanese research teams are likely to sell their research results to big international pharmaceutical companies even if the first and second vaccine trials go well, he explained. The difficulty of vaccine development also arose due to the low number of confirmed cases in Taiwan, he added.

那麼,台灣為何不乾脆坐等美國的疫苗呢?吳明賢以兩點解釋,第一,如果美國真的研發出好的疫苗,他們一定先供給國內。

So, why not wait for the U.S. to develop the vaccines? The problem is that the U.S wouldn’t export any vaccines until after its domestic needs are satisfied, Dr. Wu said.

第二,這不只是國家間的競爭,更是「國家安全」問題,若疫情沒有控制好,不僅醫療系統癱瘓,生活、經濟層面皆會衰退。

More importantly, vaccine research is more than a competition; it is also a matter of “national security,” he continued. If a country fails to flatten the curve, it could ultimately cause crippling effects on the medical system, the economy, and our day-to-day lives, he warned. 

目前除了和國光生技的合作之外,身為醫療界領頭羊的台大還有和美國合作進行數個臨床試驗,也包括上次與吉利德公司(Gilead Sciences)研發的藥物「瑞德西韋」臨床試驗。

Against such backdrop, Dr. Wu stressed the importance of the ADIMMUNE Corporation (國光生技), NTUH, which is involved in several clinical trials, including the Remdesivir trial led by Gilead Sciences (吉利德公司) in Taiwan.

面對新冠肺炎疫情的嚴峻挑戰,台大醫院作為國家醫院正致力於維護國人健康安全,以「生命無價,視病猶親」作為團隊核心價值,未來將持續加強教育與研究,作育英才,朝著成為世界一流的大學醫院的目標邁進。

In facing the pandemic, the NTUH adheres to the core value “all lives are invaluable” and “treat patients like family,” he explained. The NTUH will continue to do research and cultivate talents, aiming to become a prestigious international university hospital, he stressed.

從台灣可圈可點的防疫表現中可看出,國內政要領袖功不可沒,因此,蔡英文總統的健康也成為人民關注焦點。問及對於蔡總統的健康方面有沒有什麼建言,吳明賢院長表示,總統有醫療團隊、健康幕僚,但走出辦公室後,決定勝負的還是「執行力」。

Political leaders in Taiwan have done an amazing job in keeping Taiwan safe during this dire situation, and thus people have expressed concerns regarding their health. 

When asked about President Tsai’s health amid the global health crisis, Dr. Wu emphasized that despite having the best healthcare personnel to attend to her, the president is always “conscious of her virus-prevention actions” whenever she steps outside the office. These are pivotal to combat the outbreak, he explained. 

吳院長用四個字「知易行難」道盡一切,其實很多人不是不知道如何維持健康,但要真正落實才真的困難。

“Action usually speaks louder than words,” Dr. Wu said, adding that “most people are aware of how to maintain good health, but the tricky part is whether they can actually implement it.”

「總統的健康不是個人的健康,他的健康問題是國家的問題。」

“The president’s health exceeds the level of personal issues; it is, in effect, a national issue.”

最後,院長再次強調「大道至簡」,最終還是回歸到自身,要維持健康,一切從自己做起!

After all, Dr. Wu stressed that when it comes to fighting the pandemic, everything is simple. You need to stay away from the virus, act for the greater good and actively protect yourself by wearing face masks, washing your hands, and keeping a safe social distance with others.