Military shift may mean lack of medical officers: watchdog
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The shift to a fully voluntary military could mean a serious shortage of medical officers in the near future, a report released yesterday by the Control Yuan warned.
August 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
According to the timetable announced by the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the armed forces will be completely voluntary by the end of 2015.
The change, however, could mean that the military will face a shortage of some 400 medical officers each year, said the report compiled by Control Yuan members Chou Yang-sun (周陽山) and Teresa Yin (尹祚芊).
Currently, most medical officers are conscripts with medical specialties. The change that abolishes conscription and replaces it with a fully voluntary one means that no conscripts will be serving as medical officers in the future, the report said.
The lack of medical officers could pose a threat to the safety and health of military personnel, especially those serving in military bases located in remote mountainous areas or on offshore islands, it added.
The Control Yuan, therefore, urged the MND to come up with contingency measures for the looming crisis. It suggested that the military work closely with civilian hospitals to meet the needs of soldiers and to introduce more National Defense Medical Center graduates to the armed forces.
The military should also ask for the Ministry of the Interior's assistance to apply for more substitute service conscripts with medical expertise, it noted.
The government's plan is to introduce the voluntary military system in phases over a 10-year period.
Since 2000, the service term for a conscript, which previously stood at two years, has been cut to around one year.
In December 2011, it was announced that all eligible Taiwanese males who were born after Jan. 1, 1994 will no longer be required to serve in the military. Instead, starting this year, they will only need to receive four months of military training.
As part of the transformation, the military is aiming to reduce the number of local troops to around 215,000 from the current 275,000 by the end of 2015.