Taiwan health minister positive about talks with US counterpart

Taiwan's health minister, Chen Shih-chung, met with his US counterpart in Geneva on Sunday (local time). Chen said following the talks that he was excited about the prospects for working with the US on health and disease prevention measures.

Chen's meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price came one day ahead of the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting. The governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) has excluded Taiwan from participating this year despite the fact that it has been an observer since 2009. This year's exclusion is being seen as a move by Beijing to limit Taiwan's international participation under President Tsai Ing-wen.

Chen described the 45 minute discussion with Price as very friendly. During the meeting he spoke about Taiwan's contributions to fighting H7N9 bird flu. He said that China's lack of transparency about the epidemic had made it necessary for Taiwan to rely on other countries for assistance. Chen said that the United States had agreed that the situation had led to a global and regional gap in epidemic prevention.

During the meeting, Chen also thanked the US for working with Taiwan on the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) to mobilize expertise to deal with global challenges.

During the meeting Taiwan's health minister shared the country's experience with its national health insurance program. Price said that the United States is still working to improve its own insurance programs and is willing to learn more from Taiwan's experience.

Chen said the two sides also discussed working together on international aid projects.

The US says it's willing to build a collaborative relationship to work together on international aid projects," said Chen. "Indeed, I was quite happy after my conversation with them, and perhaps even a little excited to forge this valuable friendship during this unfortunate predicament.

Chen said that he invited Price to visit Taiwan, and that Price had been positive in his response.

Source: Radio Taiwan International