Featured Doctor

TSAI, Dr 'Steve' Shih-Tzu

Taiwan - region conference HOC

‘Steve’ Shih-Tzu TSAI is vice-chair and head of the main program of the organising committee of the WONCA Asia Pacific region conference coming to Taiwan in March

Current Work

‘Steve’ Shih-Tzu TSAI, MD, is currently Head of the Center for Preventive Services and Chief of Section of Rheumatology–Immunology in Buddhist Tzu-Chi Medical Foundation Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, which is a major unit of the world-renowned Buddhist Tzu-Chi Compassion Relief Foundation, Taiwan. He is also the incumbent President of the Taiwan Academy of Hospice Palliative Medicine as well as President of Taiwan Medical Alliance for Tobacco Control (more about his interest in tobacco control later).

Other interesting things he has done

Dr Tsai graduated in 1975 and after his residency was board-certified in internal medicine, allergy-immunology and rheumatology.

He founded the Department of Family Medicine of Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) in 1985. During his 15-year chairmanship, he devoted himself to residency training and medical education, founded the hospice-palliative care unit of the hospital and contributed to establishing the regional medical network of I-Lan County.

Between 1994 and 1995, he was President of the Taiwan Association of Family Medicine (TAFM), one of the largest medical societies in Taiwan, with a membership at the time of more than 4000.

Steve set up the first smoking cessation clinic in Taiwan in 1992. Since 2002, he has led a nationwide program for smoking-cessation services subsidized by Ministry of Health and Welfare of Taiwan Government. By May, 2014, the program had so far helped more than 605,000 smokers to quit smoking and achieved a 6-month point abstinence rate of around 30%.

WONCA editor's questions

You established the first quit smoking clinic in Taiwan so can you tell me more about smoking in Taiwan?

Prior to the 1970s, smoking was prevalent in the social culture of Taiwan. The smoking rate among male adults reached as high as 60%. By 2011, the male smoking rate has declined to 30.2%. The smoking rate of adult males in our country remains higher than the rates posted by many developed nations (a mere 29% of male smokers had quit smoking).

Today Taiwan has a population of 23 million, of whom around 3.5 million are current smokers. Smoking kills more than 20,000 people each year and the total costs attributable to smoking are 120 billion new Taiwan dollars(over USD 3.6 billion) in 2009.

You are of the vice-chair and head of the main program of the organising committee of the WONCA Asia Pacific region conference coming to Taiwan in March 2015. How did you get involved with the conference and what do you hope for the conference?

I am involved in the conference because of numerous roles relating to international liaison that I have had in the past:- President of Taiwan Association of Family Medicine (TAFM) between 1994 and 1995, Chairman of TAFM Public Relations and WONCA Affairs Committee from 2008 to 2014, and as a result the official delegate or observer from the TAFM to many WONCA World Council Meetings and Regional Council Meetings since the 1990s.

My wish for the wish the 2015 WONCA Taipei Conference is that we can get together with the best minds of family medicine, and we can share the development of primary health care with the world.

Your other passions?

To bring visibility of the family medicine specialty to medical society and the community and to encourage more medical graduates to opt for a career in family practice.