Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 1 News List

No WHA invite yet; efforts to continue

REACHING OUT:In a Japanese message on Twitter, the president highlighted the nation’s desire to attend the WHA and to contribute to the international community

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Ministry of Health and Welfare Public Relations Director Liu Ming-hsun, left, listens to International Cooperation Office Technical Superintendent Hsu Min-huei speak during a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that Taiwan had not received an invitation to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) as of yesterday evening — a few hours before the online registration period ended, but said that the government would persist in its efforts to secure one.

The annual meeting of the WHA, the decisionmaking body of the WHO, is to take place from May 22 to 31 in Geneva.

With the online registration for this year’s WHA ending yesterday in Geneva, the ministry held a news conference in Taipei at 6pm to clarify the nation’s position.

“We are still making an all-out effort to actively pursue [the invitation],” International Cooperation Office Technical Superintendent Hsu Min-huei (許明暉) said.

“Even if the online registration period is over, it does not mean that the nation has no chance of participating [as an observer],” he said. “The deadline for the online registration is not the deadline of our efforts to obtain an invitation, and we will continue to pursue it until the last minute.”

Unless the WHO secretariat clearly states that it does not plan to invite Taiwan, the government and supportive international forces will continue their efforts, Hsu said.

“The WHO is an organization that is non-political in nature and is concerned about the health of people all over the world,” he said. “So the ministry, with its principle of protecting the health of Taiwan’s 23 million people, thinks the right to attend the WHA should not be governed by politics.”

Responding to media queries about whether the minister would attend the WHA if Taiwan does not receive an invitation, Hsu said: “Top health officials from more than 190 countries will attend the WHA. It is a good chance for us to effectively communicate our thoughts with them, so basically, we will still attend.”

There are still many uncertainties involved in the process and the ministry has not decided who would form Taiwan’s delegation yet, but “concerning our people’s right to health, we still hope to receive an invitation,” he said.

Separately yesterday, writing in Japanese, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Twitter highlighted the nation’s bid to attend the WHA and its desire to contribute to the international community.

The nation has cared for the health of many people who live in more disadvantaged medical environments, and it hopes to take part in this year’s WHA in the spirit of contributing to the international community, she wrote.

Tsai has tweeted similar messages a total of nine times in English and Japanese, calling for the international community to support Taiwan’s bid to attend the meeting.

Tsai’s tweet yesterday was the second in her WHA Twitter campaign in Japanese, following one on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by CNA

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