May 25: Dreaming of the Dream Mall- Back at it for Week 2!

After a well-rested weekend, all of us were eager to get the second week of the CHSP program started! We experienced some light rain in Kaoshiung today, but I think after the torrential downpours this past weekend, we’ve managed to adjust.

Our first visit of the day was to the Department of Health, Kaoshiung City Government (KCDC). Alike the previous week’s visits, we were met with enthusiasm and hospitality; posters were put up around the building welcoming our McGill crew and individual nametags were placed at each of our seats. Our presentation was given by Ms. Chiu-Wen Chang, the Director of the Center For Disease Control. Ms. Chang gave us a brief introduction of the duties of the department which include monitoring epidemics, disease control, and infection control management, to name a few. Here’s some of the stuff we learned:

The presentation focused on the control of 2 major communicable diseases in Taiwan: HIV/AIDS and Dengue Fever. The rates in Kaoshiung were compared to other Taiwanese cities, and we were given an impressively detailed lecture on the epidemiology of said diseases. We learned that the main age group affected by HIV/AIDS is between 25-34, with total rates decreasing, while there is an increase for the young Taiwanese population (ages 15-24). The Harm Reduction Plan in 2006 led to a decrease in transmission through drug use, but increase in cases appears to be partly due to homosexual contact. Overall, Taiwan’s annual cases of HIV/AIDS is decreasing by -0.36%.

_DSC5077We wished that we could’ve spent more time at the Department of Health, but unfortunately we were on a tight schedule for the day. Following the first visit, we had 40 minutes to grab lunch at the Dream Mall, the biggest mall in Asia! Too bad we didn’t have enough time to shop more, but many of the girls had already made the trek out to the mall earlier this weekend for some retail therapy!!

_DSC5090 Our next stop of the day was the Kaoshiung Kay Syuan Psychiatric Hospital, which was conveniently across the street from our earlier visit. Immediately upon entering the facility, I couldn’t help but find myself in shock at how beautiful and clean the interior was. The design of the facility was the nicest I had seen yet, and felt more like a modern, upscale business office than a hospital. We received 2 presentations; one on patient source, disaster psychiatry and the hospitals methadone therapy, followed by a presentation on the Kaoshiung Suicide Prevention Program. The Suicide Prevention Program is a government project targeting the large population of individuals with suicidal ideations. The suicide prevention center in the hospital is unique to others; the government, not the National Health Insurance, funds the program. With stigmas in the Taiwanese culture about mental illness, the doctors mentioned that many patients come from other cities to avoid running into familiar faces, and that their suicide prevention center receives approximately 5,000 referrals per year, most from reasons including unemployment, school stress, and marital or financial problems.

After the lectures, we got to visit the Rehabilitation Center for psychiatric patients (most of them diagnosed with schizophrenia). It was amazing to see their programs that run from Monday-Fridays with activities for the patients including making soap, beaded key chains, paintings, as well as a bakery. All of these products are sold in their store and the surrounding neighbourhood, which helps patients with the integration back into society!


After our 2 visits of the day, we headed to a huge stationary store by the Shin Jyue Jiang shopping area. Once our group bought a large portion of the store, we said bye to Miss Zhen-Ding Wu who had accompanied us for the day, and headed to the Mattoni Deli Café for an amazing dinner of risotto, truffle fries, pasta, desserts and mojitos! Another packed day and a great start to the week… can’t wait for the rest!! Already sad the trip is nearing the end so fast. Cheers!