The World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s highest decision-making body, yesterday noon ruled not to deliberate on new member applications during this year’s plenary session in Geneva. As the result, a conventional “two-plus-two” debate on Taiwan’s bid did not take place, dimming the chances that the nation’s 12th consecutive bid to enter the WHO would succeed.
Reacting to the change, the government said it hoped that Taiwan’s allies would have a chance to challenge the ruling in the WHA’s afternoon session, which was to convene at 2:30pm.
Meanwhile, in a letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt has urged the body to grant Taiwan observer status at the WHA and increase Taiwan’s participation in WHO-related technical meetings.
Leavitt reportedly called on Chan and her staff to work with the relevant member states to “identify appropriate mechanisms for experts from Taiwan to participate in the Global Outbreak and Alert Response Network” as well as to facilitate Taiwan’s involvement in the International Health Regulations, which were enacted last June.
“The WHO-sponsored disease reporting and response efforts worldwide must be seamless, as mankind faces threats of emerging infectious diseases, including the H5N1 influenza A virus. Any gap in such efforts threatens the health and the well-being of all nations,” Leavitt wrote.
Leavitt has written other similar letters to the WHO Secretariat Office since 2004 when the US agreed to throw its weight behind Taiwan’s observer bid.
The Republic of China (ROC) was one of the founding members of health watchdog but was forced to forfeit its seat in 1972 after it left the UN.
The government has been vying to re-enter the WHO since 1997, but its bids have been repeatedly sabotaged by Beijing, which claims to have sole health jurisdiction over Taiwan.