Taiwan volunteers advance health care in Eswatini

The Feng Hsing Medical Service Team from Taipei Medical University is on a 15 day visit to eSwatini to provide free health care

2019/02/16 16:54 WEB:https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3639650

Photo from FHMST / Taiwan Today

TAIPEI (Taiwan Today) -- The Feng Hsing Medical Service Team from Taipei Medical University set out Feb. 10 for the Kingdom of Eswatini, the sixth time the volunteer aid group undertook an annual mission to the landlocked African nation.

Focusing on dental health services, the team comprises 15 medical personnel, up from 11 in 2018. The 10 TMU students and five practicing alumni dentists plan to stay 15 days.

Since 2016, Feng Hsing’s overseas work has been funded under the Youth Overseas Peace Corps project, an initiative implemented by the Ministry of Education’s Youth Development Administration. Launched the same year, the project supports citizens aged 18 to 35 in efforts to strengthen Taiwan’s connections with the international community via capacity building programs.

According to YDA, it sponsored around 1,000 people in 2018, mostly university students and members of clubs, to undertake voluntary work in 22 countries, predominantly in South and Southeast Asia. Taipei City-based International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) also plays a role in helping locals share Taiwan’s love with the world.

TaiwanICDF has launched projects in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Caribbean and Latin America in areas spanning clean energy, education, food safety, health care and sustainable agriculture. In addition, at least 48 nongovernmental organizations in Taiwan send young people overseas to volunteer on a regular basis.



A Feng Hsing member teaches schoolchildren dental hygiene in Eswatini. (Courtesy of FHMST)

Feng Hsing consistently performs well in the YOPC assessment stakes. Last December, it finished first out of 15 groups and earned prize money of NT$100,000 (US$3,300).

In 2018, more than 1,600 children from three orphanages and four elementary schools benefited from Feng Hsing’s work. All received fluoride treatment, oral hygiene educations and many had dental extractions.


Dental instruments are prepared before the opening a clinic. (Courtesy of FHMST)

David Fanjiang, the leader of the medical team last year, said there are only about 20 dentists in Eswatini for a population of 1.46 million. “Our performance was good, but I wish we could have done more given the need.

“I’m always sharing stories of my overseas volunteer work with others in Taiwan, hoping to get them to break out of their comfort zone and do something for people overseas,” he added.

Now in his fourth year at TMU, Fanjiang said volunteering in Eswatini has him contemplating broader horizons after graduation. “One day, I might even apply to work for Doctors Without Borders.”


Friendships between Feng Hsing members and patients are further cemented outside clinic hours. (Courtesy of FHMST)