Tai­wan im­proves rank­ing on ‘Qual­ity of Death’ in­dex


Tai­wan ranked first in Asia and sixth over­all in an in­dex mea­sur­ing the qual­ity of pal­lia­tive care in 80 coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased yesterday by The Economist In­tel­li­gence Unit (EIU). The is­land im­proved mas­sively from its 14th place rank­ing in 2010. The rank­ings are re­leased once ev­ery five years.

Round­ing out the top five spots were the United King­dom, Aus­tralia and New Zealand, along with Ire­land and Bel­gium (tied for fourth place). Sin­ga­pore, while plac­ing sec­ond in Asia, was ranked 12th glob­ally, Ja­pan placed 14th, South Korea 18th, while main­land China placed 67th. There, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “the im­pact of the one-child pol­icy, of­ten leav­ing in­di­vid­u­als car­ing for two par­ents and four grand­par­ents, will lead to even more de­mand for out­side re­sources to pro­vide sup­port.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the is­land is one of the first coun­tries world­wide to pro­vide a pal­lia­tive care frame­work with a Nat­u­ral Death Act passed in 2000, along with ex­ten­sive re­search pro­grams, avail­able train­ing and ac­cred­i­ta­tion in the field of pal­lia­tive care, as well as high- qual­ity ser­vices of­fered free of charge.

Ac­cord­ing to Fang Chun-kai, a spe­cial­ist and in­struc­tor in pal­lia­tive care at Mackay Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal ( Taipei), Tai­wan’s im­proved rank­ings were due to the fact that psy­chol­o­gists had en­tered into pal­lia­tive care, tak­ing over a role once dom­i­nated by so­cial work­ers and re­li­gious fig­ures. Psy­chol­o­gists, ac­cord­ing to Fang, are not con­fined by re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion, while so­cial work­ers are best suited to pro­vide fam­ily ser­vices.

Fang added that Tai­wan’s health care en­vi­ron­ment has also im­proved ( rank­ing fifth over­all world­wide in the cat­e­gory). Other fac­tors in­clude com­bin­ing pal­lia­tive care with other units within hos­pi­tals. He added that Tai­wan could stand to im­prove even more if it could in­crease di­ag­nos­tic aware­ness to aid in de­ter­min­ing which pa­tients would ben­e­fit from pal­lia­tive care, as well as in­creas­ing in­fra­struc­ture to more re­mote re­gions is­land.

The Qual­ity of Death In­dex is com­mis­sioned by a phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Sin­ga­pore called the Lien Foun­da­tion, com­bin­ing qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive in­di­ca­tors across five cat­e­gories ( pal­lia­tive and health care en­vi­ron­ment; hu­man re­sources; af­ford­abil­ity of care; qual­ity of care; com­mu­nity en­gage­ment) and in­cludes in­ter­views with more than 120 ex­perts world­wide.

The re­port added that many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries will re­quire re­sources to meet ris­ing fu­ture need as the fre­quency of non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases pro­lif­er­ates and as pop­u­la­tions age more rapidly.

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