Thu, May 24, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Protest over WHO designation to be continued: official

Staff writer, with CNA, GENEVA, Switzerland

The Taiwanese delegation at the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) — the decisionmaking arm of the WHO — would continue to protest the WHO’s denigration of Taiwan’s official name, an official said on Tuesday.

Hsu Ming-hui (許明暉), the director-general of the Department of Health’s Bureau of International Cooperation, said the delegation would protest the WHO’s reference to Taiwan as a “province of China” in official internal documents through appropriate means.

“It is our position that the protest will continue at the appropriate time and occasion in an appropriate manner through appropriate channels,” said Hsu, part of Taiwan’s WHA delegation, which is headed by Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達).

Taiwan lost its WHO membership after quitting the UN in 1971, but it has been invited to attend the WHA as an observer since 2009.

However, although Taiwan has attended the WHA under the name “Chinese Taipei,” the WHO secretariat issued a letter in September last year asking WHO members to refer to it as “Taiwan, Province of China” in internal documents.

Taiwan has protested the designation on several occasions, but has yet to receive an official response from the WHO.

Asked whether the delegation would lodge a protest over the name dispute if WHO Director-General Margaret Chan’s (陳馮富珍) nomination for a second term is approved during the WHA, Hsu declined to answer, simply saying the delegation’s position was unchanged.

Other delegation members said Hsu would brief the press on the issue when the time was right.

Meanwhile, Chiu said Taiwan’s WHA attendance had received growing attention and its achievements in the field of medicine were also earning the nation increased recognition.

Last year, he held talks with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius outside the UN’s European headquarters, Chiu said.

“This year, we met in a conference hall at the UN’s European headquarters,” he said.

Moreover, he has also held bilateral talks with ministerial counterparts from Japan, Britain, the EU, Australia and several other countries since arriving in Geneva for the assembly meeting, which runs through Saturday, Chiu said.

Chiu said health ministers from those countries recognized Taiwan’s achievements in upgrading medical services and health care quality and expressed interest in expanding cooperation with the nation in related fields.

Although handicapped by its diplomatic isolation, Taiwan has maintained cooperative relationships in the field of medicine with about 60 countries, Chiu said.

“We can be seen as a medical services power, and are winning more respect in the field,” he said, adding that he would travel to Brussels tomorrow to visit the EU Directorate General of Health and Consumers.

During the visit, Chiu said he would sign a cooperation agreement with EU health officials.

He is also scheduled to deliver a speech at the European Institute for Asian Studies, a Brussels-based policy and research think tank supported by the EU, on seven medical and health care programs Taiwan is currently developing.

Chiu was also slated to give a five-minute speech at the WHA yesterday, in which he was expected to introduce Taiwan’s national health insurance system and convey the nation’s desire to expand its meaningful participation in WHO programs and activities under the WHA model.

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