The 20th International Conference on Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services


The WHO established “Health Improvement Hospital International Network” in 1990. 

The concept of medicine has been elevated from “treating patients” to “improving health”. 

Since 1993, annual conferences were held at European’s countries to discuss the research results and accomplishments. 

Taiwan and Tzu Chi have participated at the conferences since 2008 and their efforts have been highly praised. 

Tzu Chi’s six hospitals are certified as members of the network. 

In 2012, the international conference was, for the first time, held in Taiwan. It is an effort of inviting people globally to improve nutrition, reduce stress, quit smoking, and prevent injuries of exercise and accident.


By Ching-Fang Tseng, Chiu-Hui Huang, Chien-Min Shen, and Yi-Fang Wu

In April 2012, 1370 medical experts from 45 countries gathered at Taipei International Convention Center to present their papers. The number of registrations, paper publications, and countries was a record high. Taiwan’s accomplishments for cancer screening, mental health, the respect and kindness to elders, friendly environment, energy and carbon dioxide reduction, and promoting vegetarianism have been positively appraised by the medical professionals. Not only Tzu Chi published the most papers, Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital also received the award of “Outstanding Fulfillment of WHO HPH ( World Health Organization Health Promoting Hospital) Standards”. Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital was awarded for the best poster; it demonstrated Taiwan’s HPH Performance is a world model.

Do you know , Taiwan’s accomplishments for cancer screening, quit smoking, friendly environment , carbon dioxide reduction, mental health, and the respect and kindness to elders has been positively confirmed from the medical field of the world? Taiwan hospitals’ proactive devotion in improving the mental health of people and employees has become a benchmark for more than forty countries in the world!



Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital Model for the World

The move from Europe to Taiwan for the Twentieth International Annual Conference is because of the amazing health improvement of Taiwan’s hospitals. The annual conference awarded the Outstanding Fulfillment of WHO HPH Standards to Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital. Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital was selected among more than twenty-five thousand hospitals from five continents.

The superintendent of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, Dr. Sou-Hsin Chien (now superintendent of Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital), was invited to share the experiences of managing and reducing the medical waste in the first day’s agenda “Environmental Friendly Hospital International discussion”. Dr. Chien began his talk with a film of an eighty-year-old volunteer who was doing recycling. Then he let all the medical personnel from the world know that this old lady’s work was without pay and it was to serve the society. Then he said Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital also has a recycling station, thus all personnel of the hospital are engaged in recycling. We demonstrated the concept of recycling, reducing the waste by our practices. Then Dr. Chien showed a picture during a surgical operation when many of the medical tools were used repeatedly. It is not necessary to discard or replace after being used once. Dr. Chien said, “We do not have contamination problem, and the postoperative infection rate is lower than most medical centers.” The nursing field also suggested many creative ways to recycle, such as ice pads, instruments for extract sputum, and etc. Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital has reduced the waste year after year, and received numerous awards. “So we told the organization that please give other hospital a chance for an award, we have had too many times.” Everyone in the room enjoyed and laughed at Dr. Chien’s humor.

Other than that, pre-operational agreement video replaces hard paper copy so many trees are saved. Eleven years since the beginning of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, all staff members have been using the reusable utensils. In total, six million pairs of disposable chopsticks were saved from being made and used. At last, Dr. Chien emphasized the importance of education for hospital personnel regarding the concept of recycling. It is a practical way to protect the environment.

During the question and answer session, one could feel the audience really wanted to know the details of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital’s experience. Finally, a doctor from the United States asked, “How do you achieve this for environmental protection? For example, if the senior surgeon is unwilling to cooperate, what will you do?”



Dr. Chien smiled and said, “Luckily, I am the most senior surgeon in the hospital. When I say “Yes”, then other doctors have to accommodate.” Everyone laughed. Dr. Chien then said, “We are serious about recycling in terms of surgical operation; we have proof that the infection rate is very low.”

Dr. Chien asked everyone to examine the data as a testimony. Besides, “It is also an opportunity for all personnel to learn how to sort recyclables into different categories. By doing so, one would understand the level of difficulty and is more willing to help reduce trash whenever possible.” Recycling efforts not only benefit the environment and help reduce carbon dioxide, the environment also becomes greener. From inside out and from top to bottom, everyone in Dalin Hospital implements the concept of health improvement. As a result, we are awarded and becoming a standard in health improvement.


Annual Conference in Asia – First Time: The Achievement of Taiwan and Tzu Chi

The European Chapter of WHO established “Health Promoting Hospitals International Network” in 1990. The goal of this network is to encourage all hospitals not only treat patients passively, but also develop the “health promotion” everywhere, such as hospitals, or local communities for the health movement. Since 1993, the Network holds annual conference to review the result of this movement. It has been held in many European countries. Taiwan and Tzu Chi have been participating in this conference since 2008 and devotedly presenting the result of health movement. Their essays were widely recognize by the organization. Because of our accomplishments, the headquarters in Copenhagen decided to hold the Twentieth International Conference in Taiwan for 2012. 

The 20th International Conference on Health Promoting Hospitals and Health Services organized by Taiwan’s Health Organization was held from April 11 to 13, 2012. There were one 1370 people registered for the conference and it was the highest attendance after all. A total of 1005 participants from 140 some hospitals, 36 universities and colleges, and 14 health organization attended the conference.

Statistics from the Bureau of National Health showed there were five keynote-speakers, 58 parallel sessions. A total of 744 essays were presented in the conference – with 183 oral presentations, and 561 posters. The number of essays, the number of people and countries registered were a new record high. Five-hundred-ninety-eight essays were presented from Taiwan alone.

All six hospitals of Tzu Chi Medical Foundation participated in the conference. Among them Kuansan Tzu Chi Hospital is the first time participant as an observer. Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, the first to participate in the conference and other Tzu Chi hospitals such as Hualien, Taipei, Taichung, and Yuli all submitted research papers. The total research papers included nine oral presentations, six mini presentations, and 50 poster presentations. In total, 65 papers are presented by Tzu Chi hospitals. It accounts for about 9% of the conference and about 10% of Taiwan’s publications. These numbers demonstrated the effort from six Tzu Chi hospitals for promoting physical and mental health of the people.



Pledge a Green & Friendly Environment, Improve Health & Protect Earth

On the morning of the first day conference, Wednesday April 11, 2012, the sun shined upon Taipei, like a warm welcome to the guests from all over the world. Although the official opening was 6 pm, two discussions had begun at 9 am already. They were “ Environmental-Friendly Hospitals Discussion” and “2010 Smoke-Free Hospital International Award Discussion”. The colleagues from Tzu Chi Hospitals arrived early and participated in topics of interest to them.

Then at 4:45pm in the afternoon, two representatives from the “Health Care without Harm” invited everyone to support the movement “Green and Friendly Environment” by signing a petition. The Director General of Bureau of Health Promotion, Dr. Shu-Ti Chiou, signed the petition first, then Dr. Sou-Hsin Chien, Dr. You-Chen Chao, superintendent of Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital, Dr. ChingYuan Chen, HPH project head of Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital all signed the petition on behalf of all Tzu Chi medical personnel.

At 6 pm, Vice-President of Taiwan, Wan-Chang Siew, came and hosted the opening ceremony. The Chairman of Inter national Health Promotion Hospital Network Organization, Dr. Jurgen Pelikan addressed to the representatives and explained the three reasons why the conference was held in Taiwan. The first reason was because of the significance of holding the first conference in an Asian country. The second was that Taiwan had most representatives and papers to present. Lastly, it was meant to bring the HPH Network to a new era. At the same time, they also announced that Dr. Shu-Ti Chiou was elected to be a board member of WHO HPH Network. Then the twentieth annual meeting has officially begun.



At 8 pm, a dinner and award ceremony was held at the third floor of the conference hall. The awards are to recognize the outstanding health promotion, including for the first time an “Outstanding HPH Award” to Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital. The conference award was presented by Dr. Louis Cote, the chairman of the international health network and Dr. Hanne Tonnesen, Secretary of international health network organization, to Dr. Sou-Hsin Chien. Dr. Chien thanked for the recognition of the organization, and appreciated the leadership of Dr. Shu-Ti Chiou, the head of the department of the health toward the improvement of Taiwan’s health. This honor was credited to the Dr. Chin-Lon Lin , chief executive of Tzu Chi’s hospitals and all medical personnel who have been promoting the health movement for a long time, so that patients, families, and hospital personnel come together for a common goal – a healthy body and mind.


Yuli Tzu Chi Hospital Well Known; Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital the Best

During the parallel presentations, whether it was 20 minutes oral presentation or 10 minutes mini presentation, or poster presentation, one could see the colleagues from six Tzu Chi hospitals everywhere. Besides doctors and nurses, there were physical therapists, nutritionists, social workers , and hospital administrators. Yuli Tzu Chi Hospital’s improvement on promoting health was audited by the committees at the conference, with three mini oral presentations, which were recognized and confirmed.

On the third day of the conference, before the closing ceremony, Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital’s Service Department Ming-Chung Yang was presented by the conference the best poster award, which featured “Taipei Tzu Chi hospital’s example on protecting the environment by reducing carbon dioxide.” The poster presented the accomplishment of the savings on electricity, water, and diesel oil.



Friendly Environment Trilogy: Medical Organization, Environmental Protection, Vegetarian Diet

Besides meeting agenda and poster areas, on the first floor of the Taipei International Convention Center were display booths organized by the conference. The display booth was for related medical organizations and health organizations in Taiwan. Tzu Chi medical organizations and Da Ai technology organization were next door to the Taiwan vegetarian nutrition association. The goal was to present the concepts and actions of Tzu Chi’s medical culture, environmental recycle and vegetarian concept to reduce carbon dioxide. “Recycled bottle scarf” or cut-outs from the plastic bottles recycled blankets used in relief mission, were passed out as souvenirs if the participant makes a pledge to eat vegetarian meals.



Because Tzu Chi’s display area was next to the poster’s area, many people who were presenters of the poster were viewing the display. The best friendly neighbor of the display area was from Chiayi Health Department and DaLin Tzu Chi Hospital.

Among the medical related products, a series of environmental friendly textile products were prominently presented on the light green colored display booth. In order to be able to present to the professional guests, volunteers from Taipei’s Foreign Language Team, Siri Su, George Lin, and HsuanYi Hsu enthusiastically explained these green products. Everyone was amazed by the products made from recycled plastic bottles. They praised Tzu Chi’s effort in protecting the environment.

After the show, doctors from India and Nepal inquired the possibility of exporting Da Ai’s technology and system for recycling. They have never heard the technology to reduce trash, energy and carbon dioxide.

Janet Robinson , a short blond hair lady, came to Tzu Chi’s presentation booth with a warm smile. She represented a nongovernmental organization – Family Health International 360 (FHI 360). Janet is the director of the scientific experiment organization and is also person in charge for Asia Pacific area with main office located at Bangkok, Thailand. Janet has been a vegetarian for twenty-two years and wishes to learn more about Tzu Chi’s effort on spreading the environmental protection effort. She also wishes to know how to transform the idea of protecting the environment into actions. With the explanation of Ching-Fang Tseng, she realized Tzu Chi’s effort in protecting the environment is a gradual and longterm effort. It started with families, then friends, relatives, neighborhoods to today’s community environmental protection stations. Throughout Tzu Chi offices around the world, volunteers are devoted to the effort of protecting the environment. 

A woman from England’s Health Organization searching for meditation as a means to help patients and general public’s mental health curiously asked: “As a Buddhist hospital, do you provide any mental or psychological therapy to patients?” One of the colleagues at the booth answered, “Tzu Chi is a Buddhist hospital, but its volunteers come from all religious backgrounds. Other than Buddhist monastics, the medical volunteers who wear yellow vests offer emotional and psychological supports to patients and families.”

Of course, several guests expressed interest in making donations. Nurse Associate Wu from the maternity ward of Sijhih Cathay General hospital affirms Tzu Chi’s ideas. She left her address so Sijhih’s Tzu Chi volunteers could reach her in her workplace.

An executive from Jakarta, Indonesia recanted he had collaborated with Tzu Chi’s medical organization in Indonesia, so this time he bought six representatives to Taiwan for observation. He wanted to learn how hospitals can reduce medical waste. He was also interested in the ways of detecting the mercury level in Tzu Chi’s hospitals. The executive was very modest and unassuming and he also wanted to participate in activities about vegetarianism. One government official from Indonesia visited Tzu Chi’s presentation booth and said he had never heard of Tzu Chi before.

On the third day of the conference, many guests visited Tzu Chi’s booth, some of them were first timers. One doctor from Barcelona, Spain asked, “My colleague just told me that you have scarfs made from plastic bottles. I did not know it was from the rescue mission blanket. Thank you for telling me.” Another foreigner who first visited the booths and was looking for presentation room with his friend, but was led by his English friend Ms. Cook to our booth and was told that the scarfs and blankets were made from recycled plastic bottles. We joked with Ms. Cook, “You are our best guide.” They were all from England and said this non-existent in England. Clearly, the plastic bottles are worthwhile for recycling purpose. This English gentleman also followed our guide and signed the petition to be a vegetarian.

There were two Nigerian doctors in the traditional clothes and hats. They came by the second time. One of them said the grey colored scarf matched his grey hat and grey gown, and tried it on. Then he decided to loop it on his hat and left with it.

Tzu Chi’s environmental scarfs left good impression with thirty or forty countries. We hope all hospitals will eventually march toward environment protection for a greener and better world.


Echoing Gong Calls for Pledge - Countries That Follow the Movement

Inside the conference hall, the sound of gongs was everywhere with hail and clapping. This was the scene in front of booth of Taiwan’s vegetarian association. Tzu Chi’s display booth was one of the two most popular; the other one was the free photo booth provided by the National Health Bureau.

In order to make up for the additional carbon dioxide produced by the airplane because of the conference, Taiwan’s vegetarian association was promoting pledges for vegetarian meals. It is estimated that the annual conference generated 438,552 kilograms of carbon dioxide, it would require 404 people to go on vegetarian diet for one year, or the equivalent of 4,252 hundred vegetarian meals.

One of the guests making a pledge is a Muslim from Indonesia. Ms. Tika had heard of Tzu Chi’s contribution in Indonesia. She said in Indonesia, vegetarians have limited selections of food and they are usually expensive as compared to the convenience and inexpensiveness in Taiwan. For energy saving and carbon dioxide reduction, she gladly hit the gong to support one day a week pledge for vegetarian meals.

The Tzu Chi Celebrity Association was invited by Da Ai ’snews anchorman Ming-Chun Ni to advise people to keep a healthy veggie diet. Volunteers included Ting Chen, AnShun Yu, Suny, Yin-Yi Chien, ChingRen Cheng and Hsin-Yu Chen. The response was overwhelming especially to the local guests from Taiwan.

Nutritionist Chih-Hung Tsai from Taitung’s St. Mary Hospital came after an appeal from Hsueh-Ting Chiu, the secretary of Taiwan’s vegetarian nutrition association, for healthy veggie diet.

“We are promoting eating veggie in the hospital and hope patients will respond to the call. Because Tzu Chi has experience in veggie diet, we want to collaborate with Tzu Chi.” The director of Tzu Chi’s Kuanshan’s administration also shared with Mr. Tsai on the experience of providing vegetarian lunch box in the Kuansan Tzu Chi Hospital.

On the evening of April 12, before the end of the exposition, a very tall grey-hair gentleman with sideburns invites everyone to come to Sweden for next year’s conference. He invited Tzu Chi’s colleagues to take pictures in front of Tzu Chi’s booth. He said he had pledged to become a vegetarian one day a week. He said he was overweight and it affected his health. Doctor told him to cut down the intake of sugary food. One of his four children is a vegetarian, so he will have more opportunities to eat vegetable.


Doctors Against Tobacco, Surgery for Smoking-quitters Only

Dr. David Chalom, an orthopedic f r o m S w e d e n , c a m e t o T z u Chi’s booth with a big smile. He introduced himself as a member of Doctors against Tobacco (www. He is passionately against the use of tobacco and was very interested in Tzu Chi’s recycling effort. He witnessed plastic bottles being recycled to useful materials and sincerely invited Tzu Chi to come to Sweden to introduce the recycled products. Ching-Fang Tseng took a newly developed product, a recycled medical mask developed by Da Ai Technological Organization, and asked his opinion from a surgeon’s point of view. David willingly put it on, and then took a deep breath. After he tested it, David suggested making adjustment on the lower chin area to go deeper but thinner. He advised not to make the mask too thick because it would make breathing difficult. He hopes after the modification, Tzu Chi can bring the modified environmental mask to Sweden next year. He would invite more doctors to experiment with it. David also said many hospitals will place orders since everyone wants to protect the environment. CEO Lin and his wife were at the booth. Lin complimented Chalom’s effort in persuading patients to quit smoking. He will not perform surgery unless the patients quit smoking. 

On April 13, when the booths were about to close, a female psychologist from Swaziland came to our booth again. Even though she expressed difficulty of a veggie diet, she was still given a scarf. But after she visited Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital and had tasted the vegetarian food, she found out the vegetarian food was very delicious. She said she would start eating less meat. So she came back to our booth, and signed her pledge to be a vegetarian once a week. She said, “It may be hard, but I will be a vegetarian one day a week.” Then she hit the gong.


Carbon Dioxide Reduced 60% - Taiwan the Best 

After three days of hard work, there were 573 people from all countries that participated at the conference pledged to be vegetarians once a week. Therefore, it will reduce 274,717 kilograms of carbon dioxide. This will offset 63 percent of carbon dioxide generated by this annual conference. This is a pleasant surprise. We wish all those people who signed up will keep their promises, and wish they will inspire their families, friends, and colleagues to this pledge. Hopefully all hospitals will support this movement of reducing carbon dioxide to improve health.



The International Health Improvement Annual Conference successfully adjourned. It was a record high for the number of theses presented, and the number of people who pledged to reduce carbon dioxide by eating vegetarian food. For the physical and mental health of Taiwanese people, the six Tzu Chi hospitals will continue to promote health improvement in their local communities.