Public-Private Cooperation to fight against the COVID-19
Close cooperation between the government and private sector has been at the heart of COVID-19 prevention actions, most notably in the production and distribution of epidemic prevention supplies, while accelerating its medicine and vaccine R&D capabilities.
The national face mask production team is one of the most well-known examples of Taiwan’s robust ICT capabilities and manufacturing capacity.
The government also coordinated with other industries like ICT, national and private research institutions, and transportation companies (taxis, rental cars).
Taiwan made advance preparations and initiated an early response to prevent and contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition to consolidating cooperation among medical and public health institutions, Taiwan has demonstrated its robust Information and Communications Technology (ICT) capabilities and manufacturing capacity with regard to the production and distribution of epidemic prevention supplies, while bringing to bear its medicine and vaccine R&D capabilities. Close cooperation between the government and private sector has been at the heart of these endeavors.
1. Private sector associations approached the government with offers of assistance, leading to the formation of a national face mask production team.
1.1. Setting up new face mask production lines
To ensure a sufficient supply of face masks and other necessities for its citizens, the Taiwan government requisitioned local manufacturers. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association, Hsu Wen-hsien, brought together dozens of companies to form a national face mask production team. The government invested NT$180 million, enabling this national team to create 60 face mask production lines within 25 days. On February 27, the government added another NT$90 million for an extra 30 production lines. Adults are now able to purchase nine face masks every two weeks, with daily production capacity advancing towards 19 million as of mid-May.
1.2. Support from the ICT sector
Seven private sector engineers, with the help of Google Maps and location search and payment services, designed a mask search map app through which people could check remaining inventory levels at convenience stores. This led to the engineers who developed the app to team up with Digital Minister Audrey Tang to create the name-based rationing system based on data from the NHI Administration, with people’s purchases recorded on their NHI cards. This system was launched on February 6, and one month later, a mechanism was added allowing people to order face masks online and collect them at convenience stores. The number of face masks made available per person was increased from three per week to nine every two weeks.
2. Increasing ethanol production capacity to ensure steady supply
To meet the steady demand for ethanol during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Yuan instructed state-run companies Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor and Taiwan Sugar to increase production of 75% ethanol solutions for distribution through major channels in 350 ml bottles, with a set price of NT$45 per bottle.
3. Private enterprises and the government joined hands to quickly upscale production of protective and isolation gowns toilet paper, as well as donate supplies.
3.1. To protect frontline personnel, private enterprises suspended their own production operations and rushed into the manufacturing of protective and isolation gowns. They also donated more than 10 million items including: ambulances, emergency vehicles, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, and infrared thermal imaging cameras, to ensure the safety of the Taiwanese people.
3.2. In coordination with the government, domestic toilet paper and instant noodle manufacturers pledged to run manufacturing operations 24 hours a day for a two-week period to ensure supplies and address shortage concerns.
4. The Academia Sinica, National Health Research Institutes, and
Development Center of Biotechnology are actively conducting
R&D on synthesis of potential treatment drugs, vaccines, and test kits.
5. The government coordinated with taxi and rental car companies to roll out services for passengers requiring transportation from airports to home quarantine locations. This program has not only reduced taxi waiting times at airports, but also eliminated an avenue through which the virus could possibly spread. Epidemic monitoring management has thus been strengthened as a result.
6. There has been close cooperation between the central government and local authorities to contain the pandemic. Special epidemic prevention hotels were designated across the country to minimize the risk of transmission.
Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)