Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) filed a protest yesterday with the WHO for downgrading Taiwan’s status in an internal WHO document.
In a written letter of protest to the WHO’s Secretariat, Chiu asked the world health body to correct its designation of Taiwan as a “province of China” in the document, because Taiwan is a sovereign state that has never been a province of China.
Reports have shown that the designation is the result of a -memorandum of understanding signed between the WHO and Beijing in 2005.
Chiu and Taiwan’s representative in Geneva, Kelly Hsieh, (謝武樵) jointly hosted a press conference to announce the protest.
At press time, the contents of the letter had yet to be made public. Chiu’s delivery of the written complaint came after Taipei verbally complained to the WHO last week following revelations by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator concerning the agreement between the WHO and Beijing on Taiwan’s designation.
As the WHA meeting opened yesterday, a group of Taiwanese NGOs was denied entry by the WHO.
Liao Lin Li-ling (廖林麗玲), a spokesperson for the NGO group, said that when members of the group showed their Republic of China (ROC) passports to obtain their identification cards for the meeting, they were asked for other identification. Officials said this was a special rule this year.
Liao and other members of the group recorded the conversation as evidence.
Back in Taipei, Department of Health spokesperson Wang Che-chao (王哲超) said the partition of work had already been agreed upon before the NGO delegation left the country and that the matter would be handled by Taiwanese personnel in Geneva.
Commenting on the matter, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the WHA was supposed to be open to the entire world and that the reasons given for blocking Taiwanese NGO groups and belittling the ROC passport were unacceptable.
Late on Sunday, Chiu said that the invitation to the 64th World Health Assembly (WHA) affirmed Taiwan’s commitment and contribution to world health.
Health ministers and representatives to the UN Geneva Office from countries that are Taiwan’s diplomatic allies were invited to a get-together at the Swiss Hotel on occasion of the international meeting of delegates of health authorities from around the world.
Stressing the importance of international efforts to promote health around the world, Chiu said that regretfully the recent issue of improper procedures and an erroneous reference to Taiwan as a “province of China” by the WHO Secretariat had hindered the effective implementation of the International Health Regulations.
“Taiwan has been invited to the WHA as an observer since 2009 under the name ‘Chinese Taipei,’” he told the diplomats and health officials at the gathering.
Since the WHA is the decision-making arm of the WHO, the organization should follow the principle of consistency and transparency by using the nomenclature “Chinese Taipei” in all its documents, meetings and mechanisms, he said.
Chiu said the DOH would hold a health forum in October and he was looking forward to seeing the WHA delegates in Taipei.