More nations express support for Taiwan’s WHA participation

Representatives of Republic of China (Taiwan) diplomatic ally Burkina Faso, Australia and Germany joined a growing chorus May 22 in expressing support for Taiwan's participation as an observer in the World Health Assembly, according to the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 70th WHA�the decision-making body of the World Health Organization�is being held May 22-31 in Geneva. Unlike in the previous eight editions, Taiwan was not invited to attend as an observer, a move that the MOFA described as violating the founding principles of the WHO, depriving the people of Taiwan of their right to health and undermining global health security.

Speaking in support of Taiwan, Burkina Faso Health Minister Nicolas Meda thanked the nation for its longstanding contributions to enhancing his country's medical care and urged Taiwan's continued participation in the WHA.

The Australian representative called on the body to be more inclusive, adding that Taiwan's attendance as an observer served as an important signal that the WHO is interacting with Taiwan.

Similarly, German Health Minister Hermann Grohe called for meaningful participation from all entities without exception. He expressed regret that not all observers attending previous assemblies were invited to this year's edition.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price was also among those who spoke in support of Taiwan's participation. The U.S. remains committed that Taiwan should not be excluded from the WHO, he said.

The same day, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement stressing that there should be no question of Taiwan's participation in the WHA. Taiwan's financial and technical assistance in response to global health challenges underscores why it was invited to the previous eight assemblies, he added.

Taiwan's exclusion from this year's WHA only hurts global health, Royce said. World health should not be held hostage by Beijing.

The statements of support at the WHA followed the submission of a proposal by 11 ROC allies urging the WHO to invite Taiwan to participate in the body as an observer. The proposal was not included in the assembly agenda after encountering opposition from mainland China in debates at the WHA General Committee and WHA plenary session.

A delegation led by Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung is currently visiting Geneva to protest Taiwan's exclusion from the meeting and urge the nation's allies and international partners to support its participation. Chen is also holding talks with foreign officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations to promote medical exchanges and global health security.

On May 21, the minister met with Price to discuss Taiwan-U.S. cooperation on a dengue fever vaccination and training in global disease prevention. The following day, he also held bilateral discussions with health officials from ROC allies Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In his capacity as health minister, Chen sent a letter of congratulations May 23 to former Ethiopia Health Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his election as the new WHO director-general, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Taiwan was invited by the WHO to take part as an observer in the 2009 WHA following an absence of 38 years. The country has since shared its extensive expertise in areas such as universal health care coverage and the management of contagious diseases like SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Source: Taiwan Today