President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)called for international support yesterday for Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization (WHO), stressing that Taiwan's people should not be excluded from efforts to defeat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
In an article published in the Washington Post, Chen wrote that Taiwan is a piece of the global puzzle that experts need to understand to cope with the virus that causes the disease.
He said his country had long wanted not only to benefit from the WHO's expertise but also to share the responsibility that all countries have in maintaining global public health.
Chen's article ran on the newspaper's editorial and opinion page under the title "Help Taiwan Fight SARS."
"The outbreak and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has brought illness, death and economic peril to Asia and the rest of the world," Chen wrote. "It has also drawn attention to Taiwan's exclusion from the World Health Organization. If there was ever a time for my country to be allowed to join the WHO, it is now."
He said that as a democratically elected president, his first responsibility was to the people of Taiwan.
"We hope that at the WHO meeting on May 19, this important organization will invite Taiwan to be an observer," he said. "Taiwan's people should not be excluded from efforts to defeat SARS. Nor should the rest of the world be denied the important contribution Taiwan can and wants to make to global health."