MOHW minister calls for Taiwan’s inclusion in WHA

Taiwan should not be excluded from the World Health Assembly�the decision-making body of the World Health Organization�as it is essential for all nations to cooperate closely on global health promotion, according to Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung May 20.

Chen made the comments during an interview with Reuters in Geneva. The minister traveled to the Swiss city, which is hosting the 70th WHA May 22-31, to protest Taiwan's exclusion from the meeting, urge the nation's allies and international partners to support its participation and hold talks with foreign health officials and delegations.

Meaningful involvement in the WHA would enable Taiwan to share its experience in establishing a world-leading national health insurance system as well as its medical expertise in areas such as craniofacial surgery, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS treatment, and organ transplantation, Chen said.

The country is a major contributor to disease control and prevention networks, he noted, citing the example of Taiwan immediately sharing data on a mutating strain of bird flu imported from mainland China earlier this year.

Calling on mainland China to show goodwill, the minister said that politics should not override basic human rights or global health principles. As disease knows no borders, the international community has a responsibility to ensure Taiwan's inclusion in health networks, he added.

Chen arrived in Geneva at the head of a delegation comprising Taiwan health officials and experts. On May 21, he held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, during which they exchanged views on such issues as disease prevention and Taiwan-U.S. collaboration on developing a dengue vaccine.

The same day, Chen also met with three leaders of France-based World Medical Association�WMA President Ketan Desai, Council Chairperson Ardis Hoven and Secretary-General Otmar Kloiber� to discuss international medical issues and trends, according to a Ministry of Health and Welfare official. The WMA previously sent an official message to the WHO requesting that Taiwan be invited to this year's assembly, the official added.

The Taiwan delegation will conduct further meetings with foreign health officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations so as to promote medical exchanges and global health security.

Taiwan was invited in 2009 by the WHO to take part as an observer in the annual WHA following 38 years of exclusion. The country has since shared its extensive experience in a range of areas like providing universal health care coverage and managing outbreaks of highly contagious diseases. This involvement is widely recognized as helping strengthen global disease prevention and safeguard the health of Taiwan's 23 million people.

Source: Taiwan Today