Foreign Labor and Disease Control in Taiwan

Hsu-Mei Hsu

1996 Vol.12 NO.11

Correspondence Author:


The Government and the people of the Republic of China have been understandably proud of the economic miracles which they have created in the Taiwan Area in the past several years. Though social needs, environmental protection, cultural development and health care have also received due attention, industry upgrading and economic development are still the major concerns of the Government. Because of labor shortages, and considerable effort to maintain and improve industrial development, the Executive Yuan announced on 27 October 1989 “Measures to meet labor requirements for 14 major construction projects”, allowing the agencies of those 14 projects to import foreign labor according to regulations, if and when labor needs could not be supplied domestically. Most of the foreign laborers recruited have come from south-east Asian countries where many communicable diseases are still prevalent. To prevent the importation of such diseases from abroad, foreign laborers have been required to have physical examinations including chest X-ray, serological tests for AIDS and syphilis and serum examination for hepatitis B. Later, on 13 September 1991, when serious labor shortages had continued and, in response to requests from the six major manufacturing projects (construction, textiles, basic metal industry, fabricated metal products, machinery equipment, electrical and electronic equipment), the Executive Yuan further announced “Temporary measures to meet the current labor shortage”, allowing 15 industries among the 6 projects to import foreign labor on a case-by-case basis. This meant that the major construction projects approved by the Executive Yuan under the 6-Year National Development Plan could also import foreign labor, just as the 14 major construction projects could. New items were then added to the required physical examination: blood test for malaria, fecal examination for parasites and a pregnancy test. The Council of Labor Affairs requested the latter in an attempt to avoid further complicated issues in care the foreign laborers deliver their babies in Taiwan needing to care for young children.