Tue, May 27, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Letters

Taiwan's isolation dangerous

Taiwan was denied a presence in the recent World Health Assem-bly (WHA), despite being labelled by the World Health Organi0zation as having the "world's most rapidly growing outbreak [of SARS]." Panelists from six affected areas -- China, Hong Kong, Canada, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam -- presented reports on how the SARS outbreak had developed in their territories, and yet, Taiwan was not allowed to speak, despite having more cases than the Phillipines, Singapore and Vietnam put together.

The only explanation for this refusal is the political maneuvering of China. It refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is a country and labels it as a rogue state, denying it many rights that even countries such as Iraq before the recent regime change enjoyed, such as a presence in the UN.

In the present situation, with the outbreak of SARS being so dangerous, China should have allowed Taiwan to make its presentation in front of the world.

Even if China, as a communist state, is unable to see such reasoning, the WHO should have been competent enough to have granted Taiwan and its 23 million inhabitants the right of access to the wealth of information that must have been discussed in such a meeting. Instead, it bowed down to China, the country which lied to both its own citizens and the world about the existence of SARS, and therefore starting the epidemic in the first place, and denied Taiwan access.

How can Taiwan combat SARS effectively if it is not even acknowledged by the world's premiere health organization as being a problem area? How can countries morally justify denying 23 million people the right to the latest medicines in the fight against SARS?

It is time the world came to its senses and realized that this situation is far more dangerous and important than the political wrangling that is going on, and give Taiwan the proper aid that it deserves.

Arthur Shih

New Zealand

Lack of action appalling

It is sort of weird to see Presi-dent Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) engaged in gardening while the SARS death toll continues to rise ("Chen uses anniversary to help others," May 21, page 2).

As the health-care system has contributed to the spread of the epidemic it becomes apparent that hygiene standards are insufficient in hospitals, but what does the government do to improve them?

While in other countries medical staff are bound to help the sick and dying by the Hippocratic oath, Taiwanese doctors and nurses resign en masse. But does the government sanction ignorant and selfish behavior? Instead of taking action Chen mows a lawn.

The public is still waiting to see that lawbreakers are punished with the full strength of the judiciary, not just by having to pay nominal fines -- and that all medical staff resigning in these hard times are banned from re-entering a career in health care.

It seems that the government is having difficulties differentiating between pressing problems and those which can wait. The government has misused the SARS crisis to promote WHA observer status, spending more brainpower and a lot of money in international campaigning (without success) than combating SARS.

However, membership in the Geneva-based organization cannot substitute for effective measures at home.

Tom and Kathy Brown

Hamburg, Germany

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