MOFA expresses regret at lack of WHA invite

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs May 9 expressed deep regret and dissatisfaction that Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation to the 70th World Health Assembly, and called on the World Health Organization to seriously consider requests for its inclusion from countries and medical groups around the world.

In a statement, the MOFA urged the WHO to recognize Taiwan's longstanding contributions to global health promotion in areas such as disease prevention. Taiwan is a vital component in the global disease control network and has formed health care partnerships with WHO member countries, the ministry stated.

If the WHO bows to political pressure by denying Taiwan an invitation, it will not only be ignoring the Taiwanese people's right to health, but also causing a severe breach in the world health system, the statement read.

The ministry stressed that inviting Taiwan to the assembly, set for May 22-31 in Geneva, conforms to the WHO Charter and the universal values of human rights. It would also further boost Taiwan's contributions to international efforts in promoting healthy lives and well-being for all�the third goal of the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Noting the broad international support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in the WHA, the MOFA expressed gratitude to like-minded countries including the U.S., Canada, Japan and those in Europe, Republic of China (Taiwan) diplomatic allies, other friendly nations, as well as local and international groups, for concrete actions taken to request Taiwan's inclusion.

U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel recently added their voices to the growing chorus advocating Taiwan's involvement. In a May 5 letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price, they expressed concern that Taiwan may be excluded from the upcoming assembly and urged support for its meaningful participation.

The U.S. representatives highlighted Taiwan's status as a model contributor to world health, as demonstrated by its wide-ranging financial and technical assistance to tackle major global threats. Such measures include donating US$1 million and 100,000 sets of protective gear to help combat Ebola in 2014 and conducting international medical training programs on fighting dengue fever, Zika and other diseases under the Taiwan-U.S. Global Cooperation and Training Framework, a platform for deepening two-way collaboration on major regional and international issues.

We are all safer when Taiwan has meaningful and unobstructed participation in international health cooperation forums, they wrote. We should all agree that the health and safety of the people of Taiwan should not be needlessly held hostage by politics.

According to the MOFA, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung will lead a delegation to Geneva to meet with other national delegations and international medical organizations through bilateral and side meetings as well as other activities. This will facilitate exchanges on health issues and trends, as well as concerns over epidemics, to effectively safeguard global health security.

Taiwan was invited in 2009 to take part as an observer in the annual WHA�the decision-making body of the WHO�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