Japanese doctors to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday to treat burn victims

by Ko Shu-Ling

Kyodo

A team of Japanese specialists are expected to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday to help treat burn victims from last month’s explosion and fire at a water park, which killed three people and injured around 500, the island’s health authorities said.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chiang Been-huang told a news conference Thursday that at least four Japanese burn doctors will arrive Sunday and plan to stay until Friday.

During their stay, they will provide consultations to medical staff at Cheng Hsin General Hospital and Cathay General Hospital, which requested medical assistance from Japan.

The move comes on the heels of a Japanese information-gathering mission to Taiwan to assess its needs in the wake of the tragedy.

The mission, comprising Shigeru Suganami, president of the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia, and Yoshihito Ujike, president of the Japanese Society of Intensive Care Medicine, was made possible by the Japan Medical Association and the Taiwan Medical Association, which are set to sign a memorandum of understanding on helping each in emergencies.

The Taiwan Medical Association said the two associations had planned to sign the agreement at the end of this month, but last month’s tragedy prompted them to move up the timing.

Taiwan Medical Association Secretary-General Tsai Ming-chung said Thursday that while Suganami and Ujike recommended sending 10 medical doctors and 40 nursing staff to Taiwan, the Japan Medical Association decided in an emergency board meeting to send six.

Tsai said the Taiwan Medical Association respects the Japan Medical Association’s decision and that his association will work closely with the Japanese specialists and make assessments on whether the Japan Medical Association should send more following their return.

The explosion occurred at the Formosa Fun Coast Water Park in New Taipei on June 27 when colored powder sprayed onto a crowd of partygoers and exploded, engulfing them in fire.

The ministry said Thursday that the number of victims in intensive care has decreased to 277, of whom 224 are listed in critical condition.