September 12, 2006
at Contract-signing Ceremony between Department of Health and Ministry of Justice
on Cross-ministerial Collaboration in Drug Treatment and Community Rehabilitation
JUSTICE AND HEALTH MINISTRIES JOIN FORCES TO CREATE HISTORY
I am excited to witness Minister Mao-lin Shih creating history right here today. He is the first Justice Minister ever to visit a psychiatric institution operated by the Department of Health, and in doing so he has written a new chapter in history. The Department of Health has fully cooperated with the Ministry of Justice in implementing a range of recent initiatives. Allow me to brag a little about our new partnership – I am also the first Health Minister to visit the Xindian and Taizhong drug rehabilitation centers operated by the Ministry of Justice.
TREAT DRUG USERS AS CHRONIC DISEASE PATIENTS WITH LOVE AND CARE
I am very grateful for Minister Shih’s support. The Minister has a progressive view that is totally in line with my department’s policy. He often says that we need to see drug addiction as a chronic disease, just like diabetes or hypertension, which requires constant medical care. I could not agree more with the Minister, and it is the Department of Health’s responsibility to provide the needed medical care. Only when we regard drug addicts as our own patients, could we begin to treat them with love and care, and we start to carefully consider what type of treatment is appropriate during the acute, chronic and rehabilitation phases of their illness. We need support from the Ministry of Justice to put our belief into practice, and we especially applaud the Tainan District Prosecutors Office for its recent decision to waive the deferred prosecution penalty for certain drug users.
ADDICT NUMBERS DOWN, CRIME RATES AND HIV CASES DOWN
I would like to point out to you all that this model of cross-ministerial collaboration will bring multiple benefits to Taiwan. A reduction in the number of drug users will not only facilitate the maintenance of law and order by the Ministry of Justice. From a medical point of view, it will also result in a decrease in HIV and hepatitis C cases and in the likelihood of cross-infection, not to mention a reduction in government medical expenditure. These are indeed all interconnected. Therefore, I have great pleasure in witnessing the historical cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health today. I hope the ladies and gentlemen and reporters gathered here today will give us more support, more supervision and more encouragement in the future.